2012 was a year of tremendous growth for the Tony Elumelu Foundation. Over the course of the year, we expanded our pan-African reach with programmes that are positively impacting the development of the African socio-economic landscape, from helping farmers increase their yields through the provision of new seed varieties, to supporting entrepreneurs leading fast-growing companies and working with national governments to formulate policies that make Africa a better place to invest and do business.
Our intention is always to be a catalyst for change, both by having a direct impact on our global community, and in the way we use and, indeed, define philanthropy in Africa. We give grants selectively, but focus more on impact investment, innovative internal programmes and partnering with talented entrepreneurs and visionaries. With these tools, the Tony Elumelu Foundation has executed initiatives throughout the continent across four areas – leadership development, policy and partnerships, access to finance and research – with the aim of achieving measurable social and economic transformation.
As we enter the New Year, I would like to share with you a short list of our milestones from 2012, which have all in some way contributed to the fulfilment of our goal to enhance the competitiveness of Africa’s private sector and improve the business arena for African entrepreneurs. These are the cornerstones on which our enhanced 2013 programming will be built.
Perhaps our biggest achievement was the successful completion of the second class of the African Markets Internship Programme (AMIP), a leadership programme that places MBA students from leading global business schools in fast growing African-owned businesses around the continent, for a direct transfer of skills and expertise. In 2012, students were placed in seven cities in six African countries, and three more cities will be added in 2013.
We also launched the Elumelu Legacy Prize, which honours the best students in select Nigerian universities for achieving academic excellence in business and medicine. The 11 winners thus far demonstrate the substantial home grown talent that can be nurtured as future business and political leaders for the country.
We look forward to launching the Foundation’s mentoring programme in 2013, while we also execute on our vision for a business school, as well as a technical and vocational training institution.
The Foundation has been working with Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Trade and Investment to establish the National Competitiveness Council of Nigeria (NCCN), which will work with policymakers to improve Nigeria’s standing on global competitiveness and ease of doing business rankings. We will support the ministry extensively to ensure a successful take off of the NCCN this year.
We also marked the following policy achievements in 2012:
- We submitted our contribution towards a bill developing a legal framework for the philanthropic sector in Nigeria.
- We continued to provide human capacity support to private sector-facing government organizations, through the Blair-Elumelu Fellows Programme in Sierra Leone and Liberia, and the Elumelu Fellows Programme in Nigeria.
- Through the Elumelu Fellows Programme, the Foundation placed its first Fellow in the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Agriculture, with the task of unlocking billions of domestic and foreign investment dollars in to the Nigerian agricultural sector. In 2013, the programme will expand to other Nigerian ministries and other African countries.
Access to Finance
In 2012, we joined a consortium of international investors to establish Africa Exchange Holdings, whose objective is to develop a network of commodity exchanges around Africa, starting in Rwanda, to transform trade dynamics and ensure higher incomes for the rural poor, as they become more closely connected to the global economy.
The project showcases our desire to embrace global opportunities and practices, while ensuring that as much of the value adding aspects of Africa’s resource wealth stay on our continent.
- The Foundation partnered with USAID and Western Union on the African Diaspora Marketplace;
- Is contributing to the development of a business incubator network in Lagos with business development awards to start ups and partnering to develop an angel investor network; and
- We are developing our own impact businesses addressed at solving key social problems such as SME financing, job creation, and skills development.
We look forward to making additional strategic impact investments in 2013 as well as identifying innovative ways to unlock capital for Africa’s entrepreneurs.
Our research partnerships include work with:
- AllWorld Network, to create a database of the 50 fastest growing unlisted companies in Nigeria (Nigeria50). In 2013, this will expand to the Africa500. This group of companies will be the basis for providing an understanding of what makes business successful in today’s Africa, and showcase the talent that we see on a daily basis.
- The Brenthurst Foundation, which was founded by the Oppenheimer family of South Africa, to launch a research programme on ‘Africans investing in Africa,’ with the aim of measuring the scale of intra-African trade and investment and its contribution to Africa’s ongoing economic transformation.
Furthermore, in response to a dearth of practical research on the business environment in Africa, we have begun developing a case study programme to increase the volume of case studies on African businesses, and will see more activity on this in 2013.
We have achieved a lot in the last year and 2013 promises to be even more exciting and fulfilling, as we continue to build up our existing programmes and create new ones that capitalize on our innovative tools and dedicated staff and partners. It has also been satisfying to discover the role that African institutions can play in unlocking Africa’s potential.
With best wishes for the New Year,
Dr. Wiebe Boer
The Tony Elumelu Foundation