UBA boss spawns African entrepreneurs

TEMBO Benedict.

NIGERIANS are leaving footprints in Africa through various ways.

Some through the gospel such as Temitope Balogun Joshua, commonly referred to as TB Joshua, general overseer of The Synagogue, Church of All Nations (SCOAN), and Professor Enock Adeboye of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), among others.
The populous west African country has produced and continues to churn out quality footballers who ply their trade in all the major European leagues.
The Nigerian film industry, Nollywood; music and culture, are slowly penetrating the African continent.
On the economic front, Aliko Dangote, Africa’s richest man, philanthropist and owner of the Dangote Group, with interests in commodities in Nigeria and other African countries, including Zambia, has an estimated net worth of US$12.5 billion.
Tony Elumelu, chairperson of the United Bank for Africa (UBA), is one of the powerful Nigerian businessmen who has dedicated to supporting entrepreneurship across the continent.
Mr Elumelu has, through his charity arm Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF), set aside US$100 million from his family fortune to drive Africapitalism in all the 54 African countries through the TEF Entrepreneurship Programme.
Launched in 2015, the forum was born out of the Foundation’s US$100 million commitment to identify, train, mentor and fund 10,000 African entrepreneurs, over a decade.
Through TEF, the Nigerian philanthropist wants young entrepreneurs to live their dreams by helping them access cash, mentorship and exposure.
The programme has so far enrolled 3,000 young Africans continent-wide, with 45 being Zambian entrepreneurs who have invested in agri-business, education, retail, waste management, logistics, transportation, energy, financial services, information, communication and technology, media and entertainment.
Mr Elumelu is leading the paradigm shift towards prosperity in Africa by grooming entrepreneurs.
He, however, says entrepreneurs will only succeed on the altar of a conducive environment.
“Our people are tired of being in poverty, I look forward to a future where poverty will be history,” Mr Elumelu says.
He wants the continent to create a successful private sector environment.
“We are doing our part as Tony Elumelu Foundation,” the Nigerian tycoon says.
Mr Elumelu is confident he can ignite African entrepreneurship gritty and development so that together, they can boost employment creation for young people, and grow the economy and stability.
He expects entrepreneurs to help grow a robust economy in Africa and generate about US$10 billion in the next 10 years, and is confident that a vibrant African-led private sector is the key to unlocking the continent’s economic and social potential.
“Africa’s development, which must be private-sector led and entrepreneurially driven, will have at its heart, young African innovators and their transformative ideas. Only they will create the millions of jobs Africa needs,” he says.
Mr Elumelu says the TEF has united the African entrepreneurship ecosystem, putting the entrepreneurs at centre stage.
“I want to thank those heads of government and other key policymakers who have supported our firm belief that the private sector is the engine for growth and the private sector players, who are models of our philosophy of Africapitalism – the idea that business will drive change and that change must deliver economic and social wealth,” he says.
Through the annual TEF forum, entrepreneurs are offered a platform to network and connect with business leaders, policymakers and investors via plenary panels and masterclasses.
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) country director for Nigeria Samuel Bwalya, who has followed the TEF template for empowering young Africans, sees hope in the programme.
“The fact that someone like Tony is putting in his own personal wealth to support small business to grow is encouraging. Most wealthy persons in Africa are too greedy to think of helping young entrepreneurs. UNDP will join in hands to support entrepreneurship development in Africa,” he said.
Mr Bwalya is personally involved and helping TEF develop a workable model.
Impressed by the transformative work of TEF, UNDP has joined as partners along with French bilateral development bank, Agence Française De Dévelopment (AFD), Microsoft, Sage One and Greentec.
The author is Zambia Daily Mail editorials editor.

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