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The Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF), Africa’s leading philanthropy empowering young African entrepreneurs from all 54 African countries, has partnered with DEG, the German development financial institution supporting the private sector in emerging-market countries, to empower an additional 200 entrepreneurs across Africa.

The initiative will fund 200 additional young African entrepreneurs complementing the US$100m Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme that has identified, trained, mentored and funded over 9,000 entrepreneurs from all 54 African countries since 2015. The partnership will also help to scale TEFConnect, the Foundation’s proprietary digital platform supporting African entrepreneurs and provide platform access to an additional 500,000 SMEs. The initiative is co-financed by DEG with 1.5 million Euro from the develoPPP Program funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

In alignment with TEF and DEG’s development policy, the partnership will create jobs and income, boost economic growth and generate local value in Africa. It will make important contributions to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by providing funding, technical skills and comprehensive business readiness to drive better performance of SMEs in accordance with SDG 1 (No poverty), SDG 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth) and SDG 9 (Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure).

Entrepreneurs will be connected to networking support for further skills development, knowledge sharing and market linkages through a lifetime membership on TEFConnect. In addition, periodic impact assessment of up to 10,000 SMEs will be conducted through the partnership to inform policies and laws that will improve the environment for small enterprises in Africa, directly catalysing Africa’s economic growth and contributing to the continent’s prosperity and social development. 

Commenting on the partnership, the CEO, Tony Elumelu Foundation, Ifeyinwa Ugochukwu, stated, “In our continued quest to invest in African entrepreneurs, this partnership will fully capacitize young entrepreneurs to grow their businesses. DEG is a global player in fostering efforts in emerging markets and developing economies to generate employment, which is a mission we are dedicated to through entrepreneurship. African Entrepreneurs are the engines of growth, innovation and wealth creation in Africa, and there is no better time to invest in their development. The projected outcome of this partnership encompasses the entire entrepreneurial value chain and will create massive opportunity for entrepreneurs to build their ventures while equipping them with the skills to sustain business growth.”

Bernd Tilemann, Head of DEG’s West Africa office added that “DEG is delighted to start this cooperation and especially eager to support TEF’s digitalisation efforts and the drive for impact inclusion and its critical evaluation, which are topics that DEG is very passionate about. We believe these measures will form a great foundation to enable TEF to scale its efforts to boost entrepreneurship and small enterprise development in Nigeria and across the continent.”

The Tony Elumelu Foundation’s US$100 million Entrepreneurship Programme was launched in 2015 to empower 10,000 entrepreneurs over 10 years. Successful applicants receive world-class business training, mentorship, non-refundable seed capital of US$5,000, and global networking opportunities.  The Programme is open to entrepreneurs across all countries in Africa, both new start-ups and existing young businesses, operating in all major economic sectors.

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