Lagos, 17 November 2012 –The Tony Elumelu Foundation, an African-founded, African-funded philanthropic institution committed to enhancing the competitiveness of the African private sector, today hosted the African Diaspora Marketplace (ADM) Investment Event in partnership with Western Union® Money TransferSM, a global leader in payment services, and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
The two-day event gave small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), representing businesses in multiple sectors from Nigeria, Ethiopia, Ghana, Liberia, Tanzania, South Africa, Kenya and Uganda the unique opportunity to pitch to a group of select impact investors for equity and debt financing in the range of $100,000 to $300,000. Each of the nearly 20 entrepreneurs had 10 minutes to present to the investors who had access to their company profiles and information prior to the event. After the pitches were completed, the parties had the opportunity to follow up with one another in the hopes of reaching a funding agreement.
Now in its second year, the ADM is an initiative that was launched by Western Union and USAID to encourage sustainable economic growth and employment by supporting U.S.-based African diaspora entrepreneurs with innovative and high- impact ideas for start-up and existing businesses who would like to establish or expand businesses in Africa.
The Tony Elumelu Foundation joined the ADM II partnership with a commitment to host an annual investor event in Lagos, Nigeria.
Dr. Wiebe Boer, Chief Executive Officer of The Tony Elumelu Foundation, stated, “By hosting this event, The Tony Elumelu Foundation will introduce a deserving set of SMEs to a range of investors. For us, this is an important way of showcasing the reality of entrepreneurship in Africa and fulfilling our own objective of acting as a catalyst for private sector-led growth.”
Aida Diarra, Western Union’s Regional Vice President North, Central and West Africa, stated, “Western Union is a proud supporter of the growth of SMEs in Africa who are the foundation of economic development on the continent. The ADM is distinguishing itself from other business plan competitions and increasing the value proposition for participating entrepreneurs. This investment tackles the challenges many young companies experience throughout the world facing difficulty in obtaining the next stage of financing needed for their growth.”
Earl Gast, USAID’s Assistant Administrator for Africa, said, “Supporting African entrepreneurs who are looking to create innovative, sustainable businesses is an important part of what we do at USAID. Through initiatives like the ADM we are building the foundation for inclusive economic growth critical to long-term development.”
Eghosa Omoigui, a founding partner of EchoVC, said, “As a seed-stage venture capital investor, I was humbled and honoured to have attended and look forward to working closely with the entrepreneurs to build meaningful companies.”
Further, investee Michael Wilkerson, founder of Own Your Own Boda (Ugandan term for motorcycle taxi), a Uganda-based for-profit social enterprise that helps safe, reliable motorcycle taxi drivers buy their own motorcycle, enthused, “It has been amazing to come to Nigeria and see the entrepreneurial energy from these participating organizations. The event was very successful and I cannot wait to move forward with some of the connections I have made.”