Late last year, I was invited by The Economist magazine to submit an article for their annual “Year In” series. I ended up writing a thought-provoking piece that made predictions about issues I felt would be most impactful on the global stage and from my perspective in Africa, in 2015. My prediction was that 2015 would see the rise of the African Entrepreneur and Africapitalism, the economic philosophy I hold dear.A lot has happened since that article, which has validated this prediction and solidified my faith in entrepreneurship. I have met fellow entrepreneurs from varying walks of life, both big and small-scale and I have been impressed by their overwhelming passion and drive to succeed.
It is for this reason that I launched the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme, committing $100 million dollars to empower 1,000 entrepreneurs across Africa every year over the next decade.
Some weeks ago, I took this message to Washington D.C., going along with one of my mentees, Shadi Sabeh, a recipient of the Tony and Awele Elumelu Legacy Prize for the best Masters student in Economics at Usman Danfodio University in Sokoto, Nigeria.
My first stop was at the White House, where I attended the launch of the Spark Initiative, a platform for connecting diverse programs working to promote entrepreneurship around the world.
I was very impressed by the participation of leaders at the highest levels of the United States Government.
And of entrepreneurs famous around the globe for their success
I was proud to see Africa represented by Adepeju Jaiyeoba, who spoke very passionately about her entrepreneurial work to end maternal mortality during childbirth.
The next day, I delivered a speech at the Georgetown University McDonough School of Business.
titled “Entrepreneur Led Development: A New Model for Africa.”
Professor Steve Radelet, Director of the Global Human Development Program, Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service moderated a Q & A session where I answered questions from the audience.
The support by my team on ground was invaluable
And to meet two members of the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme Class of 2015.
I later met with my fellow co-chair at the Aspen Institute’s Food Security Strategy Group, former US Secretary of State Dr. Madeleine Albright, in anticipation of a gathering planned later this year in Abuja, Nigeria.
What followed next was a session at the US Chamber of Commerce with the Nigerian Ambassador to the United States, Ambassador Ade Adefuye. I spoke further about entrepreneurship as a catalyst for development in Africa and encouraged global commercial leaders from established brands like Coca-Cola and Fed-Ex to continue to partner and do business in Africa.
I rounded up this visit to the East Coast with a trip to Miami, Florida where I met with potential partners in furtherance of my desire to attract and bring business to Africa.
After a short hiatus to visit friends and family, I headed to Paris for a gathering of government officials and global business leaders discussing the Climate Change agenda for the UNFCCC’s COP21 which will be taking place in December this year.
The Architecture and décor at the Hôtel du Ministre is magnificent
I then headed to Oxford where I was scheduled to speak at the historic Oxford Union during the Oxford Africa Conference
I gave a speech titled “Africapitalism As a Catalyst for the Development of Africa”
As a Senior Fellow of the Nigerian Leadership Initiative, I also took time to meet with Associate Fellows who were present at Oxford during my speech
Despite a hectic trip, I feel lucky to have yet another opportunity to encourage a change in the narrative of Africa, and to spread the news about what we see happening in Africa every day, about how entrepreneurship is transforming the continent, just as I predicted.