Dell, in partnership with Intel®, hosted the 7th Annual Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network Summit (DWEN) of leading women entrepreneurs in Cape Town, South Africa June 27-28, 2016.
The intimate Summit comprised of 200 hand-picked attendees from 12 countries to explore how women can grow and scale their businesses in tangible ways. Over the two days, the conversation centred on how women “Innovate for a Future-Ready World,” with sessions on building a brand with purpose, emerging technology trends and more.
For me personally, it was wonderful to return to Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network Summit, having participated in the summit in Austin, Texas in May 2014, just one month after I began working with Tony Elumelu Foundation as the Director of Entrepreneurships! Then I had shared with them Tony Elumelu’s vision to empower 10,000 African entrepreneurs over the next decade with a commitment of $100 million. We had yet to operationalise his vision but already we were speaking of building an African entrepreneurship programme that would identify startups ideas and early stage entrepreneurs with the potential to succeed from across the 54 African countries; to grow businesses through training, mentoring, networks and funding. Like the Founders of DWEN, Tony Elumelu, through his economic philosophy of Africapitalism, believes the private sector and its young entrepreneurs will drive the economic growth of Africa.
It was also joy to return to this beautiful, vibrant city I associate with my previous career as film and television producer. Over the years, I had become familiar with a city full of creative filmmakers, technicians, designers, editors and place to do business for the industry. My company Carlton Television sold many of its programmes to the distributors buying for South Africa and the wider African market in Cape Town.
This time I was representing Tony Elumelu and the Tony Elumelu Foundation on the Closing General Session, to talk about the work of the Foundation and its direct impact on achieving Goal 8. In the “My World 2015 Survey” in almost every country in Africa, the population under 35 voted for job creation above all other UN Sustainable Development Goals. This mirrors exactly what a survey of the 65,000 Tony Elumelu entrepreneurs had told us. Africa has one of the largest and youngest workforces in the world with the biggest purchasing power. Aaron Sherinian, Chief communications and Marketing Officer, United Nations Foundation, lead a compelling session on how we can act on Goal 8 to create the 600 million jobs needed to employee the eligible workforce over the next decade and the role entrepreneurs will play to achieve all 17 UN Goals. Aaron kicked us off with a TED-like flash talk on the cross section of the UN Goals and entrepreneurship. He then invited the panel which included: Jennifer Allison, Director, Dell Supplier Diversity, Videsha Proothveerajh General Manager, Intel Corporation Southern Africa and Kirsten Dickerson, Founder & CEO, Raven + Lily.
The panel and the audience of 200 women business owners viewed the two minute trailer of the TEEP documentary, Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurs Transforming Africa. For many it was it the first time they had heard about the Foundation’s flagship, $100 million, Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme (TEEP), or about the guiding principles of Africapitalism and democratising luck and its commitment to entrepreneurship.
The Foundation is taking a long term sustainable and holistic approach to developing African entrepreneurs through training, mentoring, funding and networking. Technology is a critical driver and enabler for the programme and the Alumni. Our purpose is to create jobs and generate wealth very much aligned to SDG 8. We are supporting our Alumni over the decade with access to markets, information, networks, funding and follow on mentoring. TEF is tracking the performance of the businesses in which TEF is investing. Our measure of success is the success of the entrepreneurs. We are leveraging our convening power to broker introductions of the entrepreneurs to their governments, policy makers to help create an enabling environment. Our research reports provide evidence based policy which the entrepreneurs can use to advocate for change.
In answer to the question “what needs to change”: African narrative; building of supply chains; investment and not aid from the outside world into Africa: enabling environment for African startups so they have the chance to succeed; and mind-set of the investors to understand the entrepreneurs and develop investment models which are aligned to supporting them.
The Foundation welcomed the opportunity to contribute to the discussion and how we are making a direct impact on achieving Goal 8.