Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) has announced a partnership with the European Union to identify, train, mentor, and fund 2,500 young African women entrepreneurs in 2021.
The partnership will disburse €20 million in financial and technical support for women-owned businesses, across all 54 African countries, in addition to providing increased access to market linkages, supply chains and venture capital investments.
The joint initiative will significantly strengthen and deepen the EU-Africa partnership, build on the platform and experience of the $100million TEF Entrepreneurship Programme, and form part of the EU External Investment Plan to support women economic empowerment within the EU Gender Action Plan (GAP III).
Commenting on the landmark partnership, founder of the foundation Tony Elumelu said: “We are delighted to partner with the European Union, sharing our unique ability to identify, train, mentor and fund young entrepreneurs across Africa. This joint effort will prioritise and provide economic opportunities for African women, whom for too long have endured systemic obstacles to starting, growing and sustaining their businesses. Our partnership will alleviate the funding, knowledge and market constraints threatening the livelihoods of women entrepreneurs on the continent, to create more income, jobs, growth and scale for women-owned businesses.”
EU Commissioner for International Partnerships Jutta Urpilainen said: “This partnership with the Tony Elumelu Foundation will help women participants in economic development, realise their full potential and accelerate economic inclusion. Empowering women entrepreneurs is a key driver for sustainable jobs and growth, especially in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and in line with the objectives of our African Strategy. Women and girls represent half of the world’s population and they deserve equal opportunities.”
The TEF, which marks 10 years of impact this year, has trained, mentored, and funded nearly 10,000 young African entrepreneurs from 54 African countries, and continues to provide capacity-building support, advisory and market linkages to over one million Africans through its digital networking platform TEFConnect.
TEF’s female success stories include Joyce Awojoodu from Nigeria who launched a luxury botanically based product line and spa clinic in Lagos, in 2015. The brand ORÍKÌ caters to both men and women, and strictly uses raw materials and natural ingredients from Africa.
Awojoodu’s favourite element of the TEF Entrepreneurship Programme was the mentorship, which she described as “phenomenal” and “invaluable” for ORÍKÌ.
“Each TEF entrepreneur was assigned a mentor and I could not have asked for a better one. TEF connected us. Now the mentorship continues, and I know I will always have an ear to share my thoughts about the business with a person who can also offer advice,” she said.