The Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF), Africa’s leading philanthropy committed to empowering young African entrepreneurs, has announced a partnership with the European Union (EU) to identify, train, mentor and fund 2,500 young African women entrepreneurs next year.
The partnership would disburse €20 million in financial and technical support for women-owned businesses across all 54 African countries, in addition to providing increased access to market linkages, supply chains and venture capital investments.
The joint initiative would significantly strengthen and deepen the EU-Africa partnership, build on the platform and experience of the $100million TEF Entrepreneurship Programme and form part of the EU External Investment Plan to support women economic empowerment within the EU Gender Action Plan (GAP III).
Commenting on the landmark partnership, Founder of TEF, Mr. Tony Elumelu, said: “We are delighted to partner with the EU, sharing our unique ability to identify, train, mentor and fund young entrepreneurs across Africa.
“This joint effort will prioritise and provide economic opportunities for African women, whom for too long, have endured systemic obstacles to starting, growing and sustaining their businesses.
“Our partnership will alleviate the funding, knowledge and market constraints threatening the livelihoods of women entrepreneurs on the continent to create more income, jobs, growth and scale for women-owned businesses.”
The EU Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen, said: “This partnership with TEF will help women participants in economic development, realise their full potential and accelerate economic inclusion.
“Empowering women entrepreneurs is a key driver for sustainable jobs and growth, especially in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and in line with the objectives of our African Strategy. Women and girls represent half of the world’s population and they deserve equal opportunities.”
TEF, which marks 10 years of impact this year, is empowering a new generation of African entrepreneurs, catalysing economic growth, driving poverty eradication and ensuring job creation across all 54 African countries.
The Foundation has trained, mentored and funded nearly 10,000 young African entrepreneurs from 54 African countries, and continues to provide capacity-building support, advisory and market linkages to over one million Africans through its digital networking platform, TEFConnect.
TEF’s female success stories include Joyce Awojoodu from Nigeria, who launched a luxury botanically-based product line and spa clinic in Lagos in 2015.
The brand, Oríkì, caters to both men and women and strictly uses raw materials and natural ingredients from Africa. Awojoodu’s favourite element of the TEF Entrepreneurship Programme was the mentorship, which she described as phenomenal and invaluable for Oríkì.
An agribusiness entrepreneur from Botswana, Mavis Mduchwa, who founded Chabana Farms, a poultry farm providing training and work for unemployed young people, has used the seed capital and training from TEF to significantly expand her operations.
According to her: “In Botswana, about 80 per cent of people survive on agriculture and many of them are women.
“But if as a woman you want to turn it into a business, you have a challenge of finding land.” TEF and the EU Commission are proud to partner to unlock the dynamic potential of African women entrepreneurs, directly catalysing African’s economic growth and contributing to Africa’s prosperity and social development.
The programme, co-funded by the EU, the Organisation of African, Caribbean, and Pacific State (OACPS) and German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), would further scale the Foundation’s efforts in directly addressing some of the most endemic challenges to African start-ups- skills and capacity gaps, financial constraints and lack of access to mentoring, networks and market linkages.