The Tony Elumelu Foundation today launched Africa’s largest philanthropic fund of $100 million to support start-ups across the continent which it hopes will create one million jobs over 10 years.
The entrepreneurship programme will identify, mentor, train and fund an initial 10 000 start-ups and businesses, the first such an initiative in Africa targeting entrepreneurship space.
Speaking to the media at the launch, founder Elumelu said Africa had “enormous” potential as evidenced by the success enjoyed by home grown businesspeople such as Monica Musonda in Zambia and Strive Masiyiwa in Zimbabwe and Africa.
“The (foundation) will offer a structured multi-year opportunity to access funding, knowledge and perhaps most importantly, mentoring on a scale that is unprecedented in Africa,” he said.
“It is our opportunity to empower a generation. I was born in Africa and I made it in Africa.”
The director of the entrepreneurship programme, Parminder Vir, said the fund will offer 1 000 promising start-ups, selected annually, $5 000 non-returnable seed money after a 12-week business skills training course and a entrepreneurship ‘boot camp,’ another $5 000 structured as a loan.
She said the foundation had created a network on over 500 mentors from across the continent who will provide advice to the start-ups and will next year launch an entrepreneurship forum to bring the start-ups, mentors and business people together to network.
“The forum will become the platform for the exchange of ideas, networking and will have leading minds in the world,” said Vir.
“Africa is buzzing with entrepreneurs who need a platform that enables them to take their business or idea to the next level. The (foundation) has been designed to provide that mechanism.”
The programme has no age limit but has to be a start-up.
Chief executive of the foundation, Wiebe Boer said the $100 million fund was a commitment from Elumelu.
Elumelu is the chairman of Heir Holdings, an African investment vehicle with interests in financial services energy, oil and gas, agriculture, real estate, tourism and healthcare.
He also chairs the UBA Group, a financial concern and Transcorp Plc, the largest conglomerate in Nigeria.
Elumelu is reportedly one of the richest business people in Nigeria and Africa.-The Source