PV's Article


It’s 2017 and the third set of 1000 start-ups benefitting from the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme have just been announced. The significant growth in applications since the Entrepreneurship Programme was launched in 2015, reflects the increasing clout and trust in the programme as an interjection to Africa’s nascent transformation.

When announcing the selected 1000 on 22nd March 2017, Mr Tony O. Elumelu described the experience as “bitter sweet”. Because, as with the 2015 and 2016, the Foundation could easily have selected over 1000 each year due to the sheer high quality of the applicants. But our financial commitment of a $100 million over 10 years only allows us to select 1000. Had there been more places on the Foundation’s Entrepreneurship Programme, would those applications have been selected? – Yes!

This year, nearly 100,000 budding entrepreneurs from across Africa expressed interest in the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme, to benefit from online learning, mentoring and seed capital investment, alongside several other benefits of the 10 year, $100million programme. Of these 100,000 that expressed interest, 38,000 resilient applicants ploughed through and completed the rigorous application form which on its own, from feedback, has been said to enlighten entrepreneurs on areas of their business they hadn’t given thought to.

Opportunity to Sponsor Additional Entrepreneurs

With over 63,000 fully completed applications, the Foundation has a strong database of business ideas and potential solutions to a myriad of challenges across Africa. Since only 3,000 of these have been selected so far, it is a huge opportunity for the sponsors to collaborate with the Foundation to create solutions that work.

The Sponsorship Process

For the sponsors, we have made the process simple. The Foundation’s Entrepreneurship Programme has a structure that works and TEF has garnered the expertise to run this programme successfully. Over the two years, the Foundation has built a strong programme infrastructure including the technology platform for application submissions, the screening and early-stage business validation of the applications by Accenture and internationally renowned selection committee. We have developed multilingual 12-week Startup Enterprise Toolkit (SET) which provides core business skills and necessary training for the entrepreneurs with the support of mentors, to guide the TEF Entrepreneurs on their entrepreneurial journeys. We have curated unique content, built a data bank of professional mentors from around the world, and established the TEF Entrepreneurship Forum, the largest gathering of entrepreneurs from across the continent in Lagos, Nigeria. On completion of the programme, the graduating TEF Entrepreneurs join the largest network of pan-African entrepreneurs on the TEF Hub, where they can cross promote their businesses, receive ongoing support and access to value add partners, including funders.

The Selection Process

All 1,000 entrepreneurs are selected on merit after excelling in their application forms. After two levels of internal review, high scoring applications are directed to Accenture, one of the leading management consultancy firms for further review, based on 5 criteria: Feasibility, Market Opportunity, Scalability, Financial Understanding and Leadership and Experience. As in a funnel system, applications also undergo two levels of review at the Accenture stage. The review methodology and highest scoring applications are then presented to the pan-African Selection Committee for their validation and endorsement.

Caliber of Selected and High-scoring TEF Entrepreneurs

Essentially, the selected 1,000 entrepreneurs have proved that their businesses can contribute to the economic transformation of Africa through job creation and revenue generation; the 1,000 entrepreneurs have passed the five core criteria used in assessing potential business success; the 1,000 entrepreneurs have impressed various levels of reviewers that are considerably knowledgeable in enterprise; the 1,000 entrepreneurs have better articulated their businesses and business ideas than other applicants. Thus these 1,000 are worthy of places on the TEF Entrepreneurship Programme, as well as places on any other progressive programmes interested in the economic development of Africa.

But the highest-scoring unselected applications that have made it to the final level of Accenture review cannot be discounted as they have also presented businesses and ideas that can transform Africa. These high-scoring unselected applicants, possibly requiring merely a proof of concept, mentoring and business knowledge, are a pool of untapped potential that could also catalyse the development of Africa.

We are now inviting organisations and individuals to support us by sponsoring “Additional Entrepreneurs” with the sponsorship of the 1st stage seed capital of $5000 per entrepreneur.  The Foundation will take care of their training, mentoring, networking and ongoing support. We have already secured few such partners who are sponsoring Additional Entrepreneurs through their companies CSR programmes.

We invite you to enable the Foundation to select more than 1,000 candidates each year so the plethora of promising businesses and business ideas can help transform Africa.

If this could be interest to you or anyone in your network, please do get in touch. For further information about the programme please visit: www.tonyelumelufoundation.org/programme