17th January marks the beginning of the 47th World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. The annual gathering brings together global leaders from political, to financial, charitable to creative, and over the course of three days they will consider, debate, collaborate and seek solutions to some of the world’s most pressing problems. This year the theme of the Forum is ‘Responsive and Responsible Leadership’ calling on global leaders to work together to “co-design, co-create, and collaborate” solutions to shape the future for inclusive development and equitable growth, both nationally and globally. ‘Responsive and Responsible Leadership’ reflects the ethos underpinning Tony O Elumelu, Nigerian businessman, economist, entrepreneur, and his philanthropic programmes and activities through The Tony Elumelu Foundation.
Unpacking the concept of ‘responsive and responsible leadership’, Klaus Schwab, founder of WEF, spoke of an urgent need to address the fact that millions of people have been ‘left behind’ in the march of global capitalism. The situation is particularly acute for those who have limited access to digital solutions and the myriad of employment opportunities that are afforded by the advent of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The majority of these people reside in the global south, where challenges as varied as a steady supply of electricity, comprehensive communication and transport infrastructure and good governance have impeded generations from fulfilling their full potential.
Tony Elumelu has always led in a responsive and responsible manner; from the speed in which he responds in his business activities as the Chairman of UBA, one of Africa’s largest financial institutions and Heirs Holdings, a leading investment firm to the way in which he has actively chosen to create The Tony Elumelu Foundation anchored by similar guiding principles.
The foundation is not only responding to a clear need: investing $100 million in 10,000 African businesses over 10 years and thus creating an entrepreneurial class, but is also producing responsible business leaders. Businesses that are rooted in Africapitalism, an economic philosophy that applies the notion that one can produce profits and contribute to socio-economic good.
2017 represents TEF’s fourth outing at WEF, but our message remains consistent. That solutions for Africa need to have their genesis on the continent. That leaders on the continent must play their part; leveraging expert knowledge, international contacts, and convening power. And finally, that tireless efforts must be matched with strategic thinking and excellent delivery to bring about the change we all want to witness in our lifetimes.
The TEF team is arriving in Davos with an optimistic message that echoes this year’s theme and illustrates that as a concept responsive and responsible leadership are entirely possible. Now in its third year, the TEF Entrepreneurship Programme, in less than two weeks of the admissions portal being open, already has more than 16,000 applicants from across the African continent and this year is shaping up to be our biggest yet. At the end of March, we will select the 1000 Class of 2017, entrepreneurs whose ideas will transform Africa and who through our online training platform, mentorship, and proprietor TEF Hub will be given access to the principles and best practice models to grow responsive and responsible businesses.
We welcome the opportunity to share the story of how young Africans are transforming the continent. These young African start-ups are creating solutions to problems, essential in the transformation of the world we live in. By creating new businesses and new markets, they are the real change agents in their community, country, continent and the world.
As well as evangelising to the 3000 delegates scheduled to attend WEF, we are seeking to collaborate and share our knowledge with individuals, institutions and corporations that have similar values and are excited by our innovative model for achieving results.
Amidst the snow-capped mountains and alpine air of Switzerland, TEF with our Founder at the helm is delighted to bring a message of hope underpinned by facts borne from our programme; that Africa is not the home of desolation but of hope, ambition, and prosperity.