tony elumelu foundation

Nigerian business magnate and entrepreneurial icon, Tony Elumelu begins his widely shared Economist piece of the 20th of November on an upbeat note about the future of Africa. One which going by the theme of the full publication is clearly intended to be prophetic.

“In 2015 the African entrepreneur will emerge on to the global stage, as a new generation shows the world what those of us doing business in Africa have long known: that our continent is home to some of the most exciting and innovative entrepreneurial talent.”

Prophecies that come true are often of the self-fulfilling kind, and Mr Elumelu has no intention of leaving his Africapitalist mantra to its own devices. Today, the Tony Elumelu Foundation is launching a pan-African entrepreneurship programme. $100 million has been earmarked towards the acceleration of 10,000 entrepreneurs across the continent over the next ten years, according to a preliminary announcement.

Applications into the programme will commence on the 1st of January, 2015.

More detail is expected to be revealed  in this morning’s press reception in Lagos at 10:30 GMT +1. The announcement is also available for global viewing via a YouTube livestream that we have taken care to embed below.

Either because almost every business of the 21st century is technology-enabled in some way, or Tony Elumelu just loves rockets and space, I expect that the programme will have a high affinity for technology and internet entrepreneurs across the continent. More evidence for that point comes from the selection commitee which is comprised of Ory Okolloh, a director at Omidyar and ex-Googler, Ayodeji Adewunmi, president and CEO of Jobberman, and Professor Ndubuisi Ekekwe, chairman of the Fasmicro group.

In Nigeria, the Tony Elumelu Foundation has previously committed to a partnership with the Co-Creation Hub in which it has seeded over selected startups with $5,000 grants apiece over the past two years.

With the TEF entrepreneurship programme, we will be watching to see how things develop after the last camera flashes, and the paparazzi have turned to other interesting things. In the meantime, watch the launch live.

Update: Already, information on the TEEP website reveals the structure of the programme, which is interesting, if a bit puzzling in places.

It consists of twelve weeks of mentoring that will be managed online as well as face to face, a bootcamp which condenses major startup building activity into two days, and culminates in the planned annual Elumelu Entrepreneurship Forum at which the startups that successfully complete the bootcamp will be awarded “a non-returnable investment” (this is rather confusing) for further development of their business idea.

The amount of the first investment is not mentioned, but the website goes on to say that –

“TEEP startups will be continuously monitored on both a portfolio and individual basis as we evaluate the startups for follow-on funding and beyond. The qualifying startups that have progressed their business plans sufficiently will each qualify for a second stage seed capital investment of $5,000 that will be provided as returnable capital.”

Operative phrase in the last quote being “returnable capital”. One thing I would like to clarify is if this subsequent  $5,000 follow-on fund is debt or equity. At least one thing is now clear. Unlike with the CcHub grants, the new iteration of Tony Elumelu’s Africapitalism is not only larger by many orders of magnitude, but will also take a strategic position that will potentially allow it reap from the seeds it is sowing, or at the very least, recover enough to plough back into future startups.

Finally, there will be an alumni network, to ensure that TEEP startups are “not left out in the cold”, but will at any point be able to tap into the shared business network of the TEEP platform.

Bankole Oluwafemi Author

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