Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) has reiterated its commitment to supporting African entrepreneurs adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic to recover, grow and sustain their operations.
Speaking during a virtual media programme at the weekend, TEF Chief Executive Officer, IfeyinwaUgochukwu, said the opening of the application portal for its entrepreneurship programme on January 1, 2021, was to support young African entrepreneurs’ recovery especially at this period of the pandemic.
She said that most Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) do not have the shock absorber that the bigger organisations and have remained at the receiving end of most economic and health crisis.
She said the TEF will continue to deepen and expand its African entrepreneurship empowerment programmes across the continent.
Ugochukwu said the 2021 edition is the seventh in a series of the entrepreneurship programme which has continually given hope and financial support to thousands of African entrepreneurs.
According to her, till date, the Foundation has trained, mentored and funded over 9,000 African entrepreneurs. “We are also excited to say that PwC in conjunction with our Foundation has just completed an impact assessment report which would be released in the first quarter, to mark our 10-year anniversary. So, there is a lot happening in our Foundation,” Ugochukwu told the participants drawn across the continent.
She explained that after the application portal for last year closed, the pandemic lockdown took place across Africa and the entire world.
“We knew that we could not continue with the programme at that time because most people were under strict lockdown and there were no movements in their country.“Most of our entrepreneurs often times needed to go to schools, business centres or offices to have access to the internet to take the programme. So, we decided to postpone the programme until 2021.
“Now, we all know that Africa had to bear the brunt of the health impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. But for the economic impact, some people have said that Africa is the epicentre of the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the SMEs, which are the heartbeat and lifeblood of economies in Africa, is on the frontline.
‘’That is why for us, opening the application portal January 1, 2021, marked a new beginning. It marked the renaissance and the beginning of recovery, and the beginning of Africa really taking its place in the global stage,” she added. According to her, from those that applied in 2020, the Foundation would still select 1,000 entrepreneurs who would be funded.
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