The Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) and Google announced on Wednesday an inaugural Google.org Fellowship to provide one million additional Africans with access to TEFConnect, as part of the Foundation’s mission to empower young African entrepreneurs from all 54 African countries.
The announcement was made during an event held at the Foundation’s headquarters in Lagos, Nigeria, which was attended by several African political and business leaders.
This partnership is the first Google.org Fellowship in Africa and will offer enormous opportunities for Africa’s digital community. Nine full-time Google employees, including software engineers, UI/UX researchers, and policy experts, will work with the Foundation to design and build an upgraded version of the TEFConnect platform. TEFConnect is already home to over one million African entrepreneurs and offers tailored tools, market partnerships, and access to coaches and investors to small businesses.
This fellowship builds on an initial $3 million grant by Google.org to support the 2021 TEF Entrepreneurship Programme by empowering an additional 500 African women to start or scale their businesses. The TEF Entrepreneurship Programme is a US$ 100m initiative that has supported over 15,000 African entrepreneurs and is the largest entrepreneurship programme in Africa.
“Before the TEF Entrepreneurship Programme, my water company suffered financial setbacks. Since TEF support, I have purchased new machines and impacted more communities to ease the water purification process. I deliver clean water to villages that lack access to clean water at an affordable price. The Tony Elumelu Foundation Grant was a dream come true for me and a great opportunity. More people should partake, this is the most innovative platform in Africa,” TEF Beneficiary, Lungile Marhungane, CEO, Jesu Puro Water.
The Tony Elumelu Foundation is the leading philanthropy empowering a new generation of African entrepreneurs, catalysing economic growth, driving poverty eradication and job creation across all 54 African countries. TEF has disbursed over $85 million in seed capital to date to support small business growth across Africa.
Speaking, the co-Founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, Dr. Awele V. Elumelu said, “We are pleased to continue to share our unique ability and platform to identify, train, mentor and fund young entrepreneurs across Africa with like-minded institutions like Google.org who share in our commitment to empower young African entrepreneurs. It will be exciting to see the ways in which the refreshed TEFConnect platform will continue to provide a space for growth, personal development, and meaningful exchange for African entrepreneurs. In line with our founding philosophy of Africapitalism, we believe that entrepreneurs are the catalyst for the social and economic development of the African continent.”
Jen Carter, global head of technology at Google.org, commented on this exciting partnership, “We are delighted to kick off our first Google.org Fellowship in Africa. The Tony Elumelu Foundation does so much to empower African entrepreneurs, and we are thrilled to be able to lend the expertise of Googlers to expand the reach of the TEFConnect platform to an additional 1 million entrepreneurs.”
“Google’s commitment in Africa has progressed from sponsoring projects to collaborative partnerships with established African organisations like the Tony Elumelu Foundation, dedicated to developing young African talent. As Africa’s digital economy grows, African entrepreneurs are in a prime position to establish a powerful digital footprint, and this fellowship is one step closer to transforming the landscape” she added.