Tony Elumelu, the Chairman, Tony Elumelu Foundation, late on Wednesday unveiled 1,000 beneficiaries of the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurs for 2017 from various African countries.
Elumelu said at the event that the fastest way to develop the African continent was by empowering the youths to become entrepreneurs.
He said Africa would develop faster if governments, individuals and organisations invested in establishing the youths to own their businesses and eventually, employ others.
Elumelu said: “This is how we develop the world and the continent.
“I am happy that people who had been sponsored by TEF are now mentoring others.
“They are all progressing in various parts of Africa.
“I know some countries and states in Nigeria are already investing in entrepreneurship programmes.
“The Foundation is my long-term investment philosophy to empower African entrepreneurs.
“This is with a view to positioning Africa’s private sector, most importantly, entrepreneurs as the catalysts for the continent’s economic and social development.
“Before now, I did not know any of the beneficiaries of TEF personally but I am proud to be associated with them through their progress reports.”
Elumelu said the 1,000 beneficiaries came from 52 African countries, bringing the total number of beneficiaries so far empowered by the foundation since the inception of the programme to 3,000 Africans.
Elumelu said the 2017 programme was the 3rd edition of the 10-year, $100 million TEF Entrepreneurship Programme.
According to him, over 93,000 entrepreneurs from 55 countries and territories in Africa applied.
The TEF chairman said that the number was more than twice the 2016 applications and nearly four times that of 2015.
He said in the next nine months, those selected for 2017 TEF would be trained and mentored, and would use the skills acquired to develop a business plan.
Elumelu said: “After the training, the beneficiaries will be eligible to receive up to $10,000 (about N4 million) in seed capital.
“Standing here today to announce the successful applicants is a bittersweet.
“We have 92,000 budding business leaders that were not selected for our programme and these young African men and women have demonstrated a lot of energy, innovation and creativity in their applications.
“We should not relent until we help them all realise their aspirations.”
He said the 2017 selection revealed Agriculture as the lead industry of interest for African startups with 29 per cent of applicants, followed by ICT with 11 per cent, and manufacturing had nine per cent.
Elumelu said: “Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, Uganda and Cameroon produced the most applicants.”
Nigeria and Uganda had the highest female applicants with 166 and 37 respectively.
The highlight of the event was the presentation of various cakes to Elumelu for his 65th birthday by his staff and friends.