By Ikechukwu Onyewuchi The Guardian via allAfrica.com
After thoroughly sifting through over about 20,000 applications from 52 countries across the continent, the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) has announced the selection of the first 1,000 African entrepreneurs for the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme (TEEP).
The foundation made the announcement yesterday in a World Press Conference in Ikoyi, where it said the selection represented the creativity and potential on display across Africa.
The foundation appointed Accenture as an independent review consultant to thoroughly evaluate each application based on selection criteria approved by the TEEP Selection Committee.
Founder of TEF, Mr. Tony O. Elumelu, remarking on the impact of the grant, said: “The selection of these 1000 entrepreneurs brings us closer to our ultimate goal – to drive Africa’s economic and social transformation from within and to radically intensify job creation in Africa.
“Though I have never met or spoken to any of the winners, I am confident that due to the rigorous criteria and selection process, these entrepreneurs are Africa’s hope for the future. I will continue to invest my experience, time, influence, and resources to see them succeed. I am embarking on this journey with these entrepreneurs hopeful and inspired.”
The winners comprise applicants from different countries and reflect a wide range of industries ranging from agriculture to technology to education to fashion among others. The top five countries in terms of numbers of winners are Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, South Africa and Ghana.
All five African regions – North, East, Southern, Central and West Africa are represented, as well as all major language blocs – Anglophone, Francophone, Lusophone, and Arabic Africa. More than anything else, they epitomise the opportunity and promise of Africa.
The 1000 selected entrepreneurs will continue through the programme cycle over the next nine months. This cycle includes an intensive online training curriculum, mentoring, and participation in a two-day entrepreneurship boot-camp and the Elumelu Entrepreneurship Forum.
The over 19,000 entrepreneurs who were not selected will be invited to join the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Network where they will be able to further hone their entrepreneurial knowledge and skills.
On her part, the Director of Entrepreneurship at TEF, Parminder Vir, said that the high quantity and quality of applicants received is testament to the brilliant ideas and incredible talent that exists in abundance across Africa, adding that the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme will give structure and support to these African entrepreneurs to develop themselves and to grow their businesses.
According to her, “Through TEEP, the ripple effects of the long-term investments in a new generation of Africapitalists will be felt throughout the continent.”