The First Day of the 2019 Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Forum was a delightful coalition of masterclasses from seasoned professionals, riveting plenary sessions, and a memorable interactive session with the Founder, Tony Elumelu, CON. The Congress Hall of the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja was pulsing with excitement as an audience of over 5,000—most of them entrepreneurs from across Africa—gathered at the 2019 TEF Forum.
It certainly remains the most influential event that brings together leadership from the private and public sectors, including policymakers with Africapitalism taking centre-stage.
Welcome to TEF Forum
The event was declared open with a welcome address from the distinguished Dr. Awele Elumelu, Trustee, The Tony Elumelu Foundation and CEO of Avon Medical. She rounded up her speech by reinforcing the foundation’s commitment to promoting African Entrepreneurship. She encouraged everyone listening to join the revolution to transform the continent through entrepreneurship.
According to Dr. Elumelu, empowering our African youths must be prioritised if the continent must move forward.
“Surmounting Challenges” Plenary
The plenary was moderated by Jennifer Blanke, Vice President, Agriculture, Human & Social Development, African Development Bank (AfDB).
She was joined by Marie Francoise Marie-Nelly- Country Director for the Maghreb and Malta, Middle East and North Africa, World Bank Group; Mohamed Yahya, Africa Regional Programme Coordinator, United Nations Development; Hon. Papa Amadou Sarr Minister, General Delegate for Entrepreneurship, Republic of Senegal; Olusegun Awolowo Jnr. Executive Director / CEO, Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC); Ahmed Abbas Tony Elumelu Foundation Alumnus and Founder, SunCity; and Dr. Vèna Ahouansou Tony Elumelu Foundation Alumnus and Founder, KEA Medicals and Anita De Werd Senior Director, Africa Region, Maersk Line.
High points from this session:
- Access to finance is a challenge and remains a stumbling block
- Africa as a continent still struggles with structural impediments such as energy
- Senegal reported a contribution that has been set aside to the tune of $50 million a year in funding to support young entrepreneurs. This has resulted in the opening of 78,000 bank accounts in 2018 to encourage entrepreneurship
- Nigeria has just signed the African Free Trade Continental Agreement, the largest free trade area in the world. Entrepreneurs were encouraged to take advantage of this
- Ahmed Abbas Tony Elumelu Foundation Alumnus and Founder, SunCity, says the money he got from winning the TEF award in 2015 overcame the risk of using his own money to invest in his mobile solar pump.
85 percent of the jobs that are going to exist in 2030 have not been created yet
Africapitalism: What Next and When? – Plenary
The second plenary was moderated by Somachi Chris-Asoluka, Head, Policy & External Relations, Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) with the following speakers: Viwanou Gnassounou Assistant Secretary General, Sustainable Economic Development and Trade, African Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP); Edward Kallon Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, United Nations (UN); Tony Okpanachi MD / CEO, Development Bank of Nigeria Plc (DBN); Claude Borna MD / Chief Innovation Officer, Sèmè City Development Agency; and Patrick Smith, the Editor-in-Chief of The Africa Report.
High points from the session:
- We do not need to wait for the government to drive development
- The Media has a huge role to play to encourage investors to come to Africa
- There is poor quality of reporting and poor access to reliable data
- A lot of Nigerian companies were not featured in his paper’s top 500 companies in Africa because of the challenge in verifying data in the country
- Gnassounou declared that from 2020, the ACP will be supporting at least 2,000 African entrepreneurs
“Leveraging Technology for Business Success” Plenary
The “Leveraging Technology for Business Success. The panel was moderated by Sam Nwanze – Moderator Chief Investment Officer, Heirs Holdings Limited, and he was joined by these speakers: Hon. Kojo Boakye, Head, Public Policy, Connectivity and Access, Sub Saharan African Region, Facebook; Ayobola Adedayo Head, TEFConnect, Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF); Onyebuchi Akosa Group Chief Information Officer, United Bank for Africa Plc (UBA); Noomane Fehri Former Minister of Technology, Tunisia; Ahmed El-Banna, Director for Africa, Web Summit Group; Iddris Sandu, Architectural Technologist; and Uwagbae Uzebu Director, Digital Payments & Labs, International Markets, Mastercard.
High points from the session:
- Technology is important in helping African entrepreneurs solve a lot of their problems.
- It is necessary to have a digital platform that connects African entrepreneurs. TEF Connect is designed to be the Facebook of Africa. You can share ideas, interact with one another, leverage on each other’s strength.
- UBA Marketplace promotes interconnectedness.
The Forum featured six masterclasses spanning several industries, Media, Healthcare, Agriculture, Exploring Africanism, among others.
The speakers of the sessions include:
- Ugo Mozie Founder, Ugo Mozie and Angelle Kwemo, Former Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme Selection Committee Member and Founder/Chair, Believe in Africa, who spoke on “Exporting African Excellence”
- Koroma Suffyan, Country Representative, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, and Fatou Assah, Programme Manager, the Global Index Agriculture Insurance Facility (GIIF), Initiative of the World Bank Group, who spoke on “Leveraging the Agriculture Value Chain”
- Claudine Moore Founder, C Moore Media (CMM) who spoke on “Building Brand Equity”
- Njide Ndili Country Director (Nigeria), PharmAccess Foundation; Hadiatou Barry Head, Business Development (Africa), Zipline Group; and Faisal Gilani Head, Middle East and Africa, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, who spoke on “Disruptive Healthcare”
- Adesimbo Ukiri MD / CEO, Avon HMO, who spoke on “Healthcare – The Unseen Opportunities to Penetrate & Scale”
- Ifeanyi Christopher Oputa CEO, Studio24 who spoke on “Photography”
The Role of Healthcare – First Ladies’ Plenary
The fourth plenary of the day was moderated by Dr. Awele Elumelu. The title, “The Role of Healthcare in Economic Transformation – Critical Role of Quality, Affordable & Accessible Healthcare” featured the following:
- Awele Elumelu – Moderator Trustee, Tony Elumelu Foundation and Founder / CEO, Avon Medical Practice
- Oulimata Sarr Regional Director, UN Women, Central and West Africa
- Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus Director General, World Health Organisation (WHO)
- A representative of E. Mrs. Aisha Buhari, First Lady, Federal Republic of Nigeria
- E. Mme Djena Kaba Condé First Lady, Republic of Guinea
- E. Mme Keïta Aminata Maiga First Lady, Republic of Mali
- Gilles Carbonnier Vice President, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)
High points from the session:
- The initiatives the Tony Elumelu Foundation is key to stemming illegal migration.
- According to Dr. Tedros “Africa has a young population. By 2025, the age of people between 18 and 25 will be doubled.
- 2 million Nigerian women and girls get pregnant and 13 of them die every minute giving birth. Government should work towards eradicating poverty
- Entrepreneurship in the area of health is growing. For example, there is a young from Cameroon who runs a blood bank app that uses data to show where blood is available; and another lady, from Kenya, who developed a technology that tracks where an ambulance is available
In Mali, sexual and reproductive health for adolescents should be prioritised to reduce maternal mortality. Also, child marriages and female genital mutilation remain huge issues in Mali and should be eradicated.
Interaction Between Tony Elumelu and African Entrepreneurs
Tony Elumelu, CON, Founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation began his interactive session by encouraging entrepreneurs and educating them on all the possibilities available to them.
“You are more educated, you are more exposed, you are more socially connected,” he said to the thousands of audience listening with rapt attention and excitement.
He acknowledged the partnerships that have grown the programme from accepting 1000 entrepreneurs to accepting 3,000. The UNDP, ACP, AFDB respectively.
“We said in ten years we are targeting 10,000 entrepreneurs and in five years, we have already done more than 7,500, and that excludes the 2,000 and 3,000 mentioned today and the 100,000 UNDP partnership,” he said.
He ended his speech session by educating on the four success tips needed by entrepreneurs: Hard work, thinking long-term, resilience, and discipline.
“As you commence your entrepreneurship journey, tell yourself that success comprises a lot of things, including short term failures,” he said.
Tony Elumelu transitioned into a Q&A session from the attendees where he answered all questions asked. An interesting part of the evening was an Entrepreneur’s call for the government to partner with the Foundation.
Mr. Elumelu finally rounded up the session by stating the three stages of his career:
“Stage one was trying to make sure my accounts balance at the end of the day; stage two was the self-actualisation phase – the business aspirations; and where I am now is the legacy phase, helping people like you to succeed.”
Mr. Elumelu ended with this: “My philosophy is that you don’t know it all. Two heads are better one.”