Analysis: BENEDICT TEMBO
THE Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF), Africa’s leading philanthropy, last Friday announced the selection of 3,050 African entrepreneurs to join the fifth cycle of its US$100 million TEF Entrepreneurship Programme.
The selected entrepreneurs, drawn from all 54 African countries, represent the TEF’s commitment to empower African entrepreneurs.
This year, over 216,000 applications were received, an increase from last year’s 151,000. Nearly 90,000 were submitted by female entrepreneurs, an increase of 45 percent, illustrating the foundation’s strategy to achieve greater gender balance.
The selected entrepreneurs who include 77 Zambians will each receive non-refundable US$5,000 of seed capital, access to mentors, and a 12-week business training programme, directly focused on the needs of African entrepreneurs.
The 3,050 will on July 26 and 27, 2019, gather at the TEF Entrepreneurship Forum, the largest annual gathering of African entrepreneurs and the entrepreneurship ecosystem on the continent.
The phenomenal increase in applicants signifies realisation that entrepreneurship is an important avenue to earning a livelihood and not only through a job.
The message of female empowerment has gotten through and women are emerging.
That the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Federal Republic of Benin (Seme City), the Anambra State Government, Indorama, the Government of Botswana and the African Development Bank (AfDB) have come on board as partners is the realisation that promoting entrepreneurship is a much more sustainable way to help than handouts.
“The increase in the number of applications is because young Africans have realised the tangible benefits that they can realise from this programme. Furthermore, tangible evidence in terms of statistics of beneficiaries in the previous cycles is there for everyone to see,” Copperbelt University lecturer in marketing and entrepreneurship Moffat Chawala says.
Mr Chawala says the increase in the number of applicants can also be attributed to the investment that the programme has put in to advertise the programme on platforms that have a much wider audience across the African continent like DStv.
“The adverts have also helped tangiblelise the benefits by showing testimonials of previous participants and how the programme has transformed their lives,” Mr Chawala says.
He says the significance of the increase in the number of applications is testimony of the entrepreneurial drive that has been planted in the lives of young people in Africa and this has potential to change the economic fortunes of Africa.
“The significance of an increase in the number of female applicants is testimony to the fact that women are ready to participate in the economic emancipation of our continent,” Mr Chawala says.
He adds that the increase in the number of partnering institutions is very significant as it helps lighten the burden for the TEF.
“Furthermore, the partners bring about diversity in the programme and this helps in bringing about synergy and complementation,” Mr Chawala says.
He is of the view that Zambian entrepreneurs and other entrepreneurs across the African continent can learn a lot from Mr Elumelu’s initiative.
After all, the founder of TEF is evidence that we as Africans have what it takes to develop our continent and drive the continent’s economic agenda.
“The first lesson is that Africans must take the lead to help push for the economic emancipation of our continent instead of having to wait for the Bill Gates and Richard Branson of this world,” he says.
The second lesson, Mr Chawala says, is that there is “good in doing good”.
The Bible encourages us that it is more blessed to give than to receive and it is evident that most of the philanthropists that we have continue getting more blessed with more wealth as they give more.
“Mentorship and empowerment of young people is the least of their CSR because business community means bigger customer base,” Mr Chawala says.
A groomed business means more jobs, hence a stable national landscape which is good for business.
The author is Zambia Daily Mail editorials editor.
Analysis: BENEDICT TEMBO