By Adedapo Adesanya
The Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF), in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), have concluded plans to empower 2100 small and medium enterprises (SMEs) across the nation.
This is the inaugural part of a collaborative effort by both organisations called the TEF-UNDP Entrepreneurship Programme, which, according to the blueprint, is to empower 100,000 African entrepreneurs within a 10-year period.
The initiative, according to the sponsors, will empower young African entrepreneurs, create millions of jobs and revenue in Africa, and break the cycle of poverty on the continent.
It was also disclosed that the programme is targeted at small business owners in rural communities across the seven Sahel countries of Africa, including Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Mali and Cameroon.
The beneficiaries would be offered a seed fund between $1,500 and $5,000, depending on the business size. They added that successful beneficiaries participated in an intensive business training administered online in select communities of each country.
The selection process ends with a pitching competition that was powered by the United Bank for Africa Plc and coordinated by its consultancy company, Deloitte.
Speaking on the development, UNDP Africa Regional Head, Ms Ahunna Eziakonwa stated that the programme was a step to increasing productivity among the Sahel population.
“Youth employment and economic empowerment are critical for the socio-economic transformation of the Sahel.
“The sheer size of 81,000 applicants for the programme underscores an urgent need to scale up.
“The regeneration of the Sahel is a key priority for us and we will continue to prioritise initiatives that break down barriers to attaining the full potential of the Sahel and bring closer to home, the hope for productive lives for Africa’s youth,” she said.
On his part, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of TEF, Mr Tony Ifeyinwa Ugochukwu said: “Creating opportunities and giving young Africans hope for a brighter future will reduce poverty, extremism and illegal emigration in Africa.
“This is why at the TEF, we forge partnerships to enable us to reach more youths and scale our impact to convert the impending demographic doom to economic boom on the continent.
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