The Tony Elumelu Foundation, TEF, has announced a partnership with the European Union to identify, train, mentor and fund 2,500 young women entrepreneurs across 54 African countries in 2021. According to TEF, the partnership will 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 Foundation added that “the joint initiative will significantly strengthen and deepen the EU-Africa partnership, builds on the platform and experience of the US$100m TEF Entrepreneurship Programme, and forms 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, Tony Elumelu, Founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation said “We are delighted to partner with the European Union, 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 the Tony Elumelu Foundation 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’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. In her own words, “each Tef Entrepreneur was assigned a mentor and I could not have asked for a better one. TEF connected us. Now the mentorship continues, and I know I will always have an ear to share my thoughts about the business with a person who can also offer advice.”
Mavis Mduchwa, an agribusiness entrepreneur from Botswana, founded Chabana Farms, a poultry farm providing training and work for unemployed young people. According to Mduchwa, “in Botswana, about 80% of people survive on agriculture, and many of them are women. But, if as a women you want to turn it into a business, you have a challenge of finding land.” Mduchwa has used the seed capital and training from TEF to significantly expand her operations.
Following completion of the programme, the entrepreneurs will stay connected to partners and to each other through their lifetime membership on TEFConnect. TEF has set up Country Chapters in 54 African countries to support the entrepreneurs as they grow and expand their businesses.