It’s my second week in the Partnerships and Policy department of the Tony Elumelu Foundation and I must say it has been interesting. Now, you may be curious as to what we do here, not to worry, I’ll fill you in. Although the Tony Elumelu Foundation was established in the year 2010, the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) entrepreneurship programme was launched in the year 2015. The TEF Entrepreneurship Programme is a $100 million commitment by Tony Elumelu to empower 10,000 African entrepreneurs over 10 years.
The Tony Elumelu Foundation has utilised the power of partnerships to make funding available for more entrepreneurs. Through the various partnerships we entered over the years, we have been able to fund over 15,000 entrepreneurs over the course of 7 years. Great right? I know, we have exceeded our initial target by 50% in less than 10 years!
The Partnerships and Policy department renews past commitments and accesses new networks for long term opportunities. Some of our partners include AFDB, UNDP, CEDA, GIZ and in recent time, Google.
Basically, we search for partners who share the same goal with us for the purpose of securing funding to sponsor additional entrepreneurs, provide 2nd stage funding, and make business support and mentorship available. The Partnerships and Policy department also researches policies that affect entrepreneurs in the 54 African countries. We all know that a large number of countries in Africa are on the UN’s 2020 list of least developed countries in the world, so we are taking further steps to make life easier for entrepreneurs.
The Partnerships and Policy department also reviews various policies that affect entrepreneurship in African countries and make recommendations on how they can be better improved for the sake of the entrepreneurs and the economy of the country. With our connections, we interact with stakeholders on how to improve the ease of doing business across Africa to encourage entrepreneurship and make running entrepreneurial ventures significantly easy and profitable which in turn leads to economic growth.
So, what have I been doing since I joined the team? I have been reading a lot on these policies. Trust me, it is a lot of work. I read a lot of research papers on entrepreneurship in different countries, the national policy on entrepreneurship, complaints of entrepreneurs in these countries. With this, I can discover some challenges faced by entrepreneurs in African countries, policy deficits and then make recommendations on how to solve these challenges. I have also been working on a proposal for a partner to secure additional funding and looking at how audit reports for the Tony Elumelu Foundation are done.
One might think that The Tony Elumelu Foundation would be a workplace with limited work but that is not the case. I can confidently say that we work very hard to make sure that the TEF Entrepreneurship Programme is a success. We are always looking for a better approach to improving our processes. We have just finished the application stage of the TEF entrepreneurship programme cycle. The Marketing and Corporate Communications (MCC) department were hard at work publicising the applications closing date across all social and traditional media platforms, to ensure that a lot of entrepreneurs are aware of this opportunity and that they apply.
The operations department is making sure that the website (www.tefconnect.net) is accessible with no complaints, helping entrepreneurs with their applications and preparing for the selection process. And as I highlighted earlier, the Partnerships and Policy department are working on proposals to get additional funding ahead of the seed capital disbursement stage. There is so much work to be done and we are doing it speedily without compromising the quality of work.
Lest I forget, I have gotten my work tools and my laptop is such a beauty. Every Friday at the Tony Elumelu Foundation we try to unwind, we ate banana bread last Friday and it was delicious. The food is great by the way. The work environment is very conducive and encouraging. I have learnt a lot and I know I will be taking with me a wealth of knowledge from my rotation at the Tony Elumelu Foundation.
~ Author: Opeyemi Ayodeji