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Visionaries - September 27, 2022

Tony Elumelu: A $20 Million Deal with US African Development Foundation to Fund Entrepreneurs

Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) and the United States Development Foundation (USADF) have signed a $20 million deal to support African entrepreneurs. 

The agreement was signed in New York at a Breakfast Roundtable that was hosted by TEF and the Google Foundation as part of the ongoing United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).

After the agreement was signed, Travis Adkins, president and chief executive officer of USADF, expressed his pride in the partnership between the two foundations and called Tony Elumelu, chairman of the TEF, “a genius and a man after my heart.”

Adkins stated that the core of what USADF intends to accomplish on the continent is Elumelu’s strategic investment in women and African youth.

He said that although the “small people,” referring to the TEF-funded entrepreneurs, are providing hope and joy to the world, the “big players” in world affairs are responsible for the current depression.

Elumelu expressed his gratitude to USADF for the collaboration and reaffirmed his commitment to bringing prosperity and freedom to Africans.

“It is not how much we have in our bank accounts that matter, what matters is the impact we bring, the lives we touch, the ability to help take people out of poverty to prosperity, so that we share. The more the merrier — that is the motivation,” he said.

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Funding female entrepreneurs 

In the first two years of starting the foundation there was 29 percent participation from women, Elumelu stated that he saw this as an F.

“So we worked intentionally to increase the number of women participants, and I am so happy to say that in 2021 we had 60 percent participation from women — and that is as a result of our partnerships with the likes of Google, EU, who were empowering more women through our entrepreneurship programme.”

Ugochukwu stated that while women make up 70% of the labour force in Africa, they only make 30% of the income and own 10% of its real estate in the continent, necessitating the need for affirmative action on their behalf.

She continued by saying that the foundation receives over 380,000 applications but can only finance the best ones.

Google foundation in search of more partners like TEF

According to Jacquelline Fuller, president of Google.org, her team is delighted with their collaboration with TEF and is searching for other partners with similar qualifications and in-depth familiarity with the African market.

She described the TEF-funded businesses’ success stories as “life-giving,” adding that it is a top priority for Google to increase the economic opportunities available to all Africans.

She claimed that Google is supporting partnerships and economic growth in Africa not just financially but also with technical expertise and human resources.

“That kind of partnership, where we send, our funding and our cash, but also ourselves to show up and work alongside you is the kind of partnership we want to deepen further,” she said.

According to Peter Maurer, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), who was also present at the roundtable, TEF and ICRC have remained committed to providing African talent with a quicker path to success.

Working with TEF, he claimed, is “among the most exciting parts of collaborating in a completely new approach together, leading a young generation out of reliance and out of conflict.”

The TEF approach of providing subsidies to female entrepreneurs is an excellent strategy, according to Maurer, who also stated that “if you want your money to be felt in an impactful way in Africa, give it to women”.

At the event, representatives of the United States government and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) applauded TEF’s efforts to expand across Africa.

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