As part of the $100 million commitment by Chairman of Heirs Holding, Mr. Tony Elumelu, to empowering African entrepreneurs, 1,000 entrepreneurs, representing 51 African countries gathered at the weekend at Ota, Ogun State for the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme (TEEP) Class of 2015.
The budding entrepreneurs converged for two-day intensive boot camp session addressed by leading entrepreneurs and political leaders in an unprecedented gathering of emerging African entrepreneurs. The entrepreneurs travelled from across the continent for an entre preneurship boot camp made up of interactive sessions with successful entrepreneurs, political and business leaders, and an open session with Mr. Elumelu.
Commenting on his experience, Gambian Badje Modou Lamin, whose business is in the agricultural sector, said, “the boot camp has been a great experience. I have been able to exchange ideas with a number of entrepreneurs. This has really changed my perspective on Africa.”
Maalainine Mohamed Bouya, from Morocco, said: “The boot camp has been a blast! Right from our journey from the airport down to the boot camp, we have been discussing and sharing ideas among ourselves. Africa has huge potential.” Nigerian Obinna Chukwu, said:
“The boot camp has been a wonderful experience – I have met people from all over Africa. It makes me proud of being a Nigerian. I thank Tony Elumelu and the Tony Elumelu Foundation for making this happen.”
Addressing the camp, Elumelu spoke on his life experiences and the principles that he learned from mentors, such as Chief Ebitimi Banigo, that he applied towards his own entrepreneurship journey.
He answered an array of questions during a two-hour question-andanswer session, offering perspective on innovation, strategy, governance, financial management and decision making He said: “Entrepreneurship is not a short-term journey and I am pleased that we can help these emerging leaders, as they seek to join me in transforming Africa. My commitment towards creating a thousand new entrepreneurs who can change Africa forever, has now become a reality.
This is only the beginning.” Nigeria’s Vice-President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, urged budding entrepreneurs to take advantage of the networks built in Ota to develop pan African investment and trade networks.
“This programme deserves all the commendation it is getting. Tony Elumelu has courageously put his money where his mouth is. Societies can’t develop without social entrepreneurs. I charge you to be little Elumelus and create opportunities for others”, he said.
The Vice-President was joined by other senior political leaders including Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State and Lionel Zinsou, the Prime Minister of Benin Republic. Other speakers included Chief Executive Officer of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, Parminder Vir; Nollywood screen icon Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde; Nimi Akinkugbe of Bestman Games; Rasheed Olaoluwa of the Bank of Industry; former SEC DG Arunma Oteh; inspirational coach Lanre Olusola; Martin Eigbike of Accenture Development Partnerships; governance expert Angela Aneke; playwright and producer Adewale Ajadi, Director of the Africapitalism Institute David Rice among others
In his goodwill message President Muhammadu Buhari said, “I am proud that Nigeria (and a Nigerian) is taking the lead in this effort to promote self-worth, encourage entrepreneurship, create jobs, build and promote networks for intra-African trade, business collaboration and investment. Our Administration is committed to unlocking all such opportunities to restore dignity to our people. This programme is one example I hope others will emulate and I commend Tony Elumelu and his Foundation for their endeavor and leadership in this area”.
As he closed the bootcamp, Mr Elumelu challenged all the entrepreneurs by saying, “I want to go to Zambia when I am 80 years old and meet someone who shows me their manufacturing business or financial institution and tells me that it was built starting with $10,000 from Tony Elumelu. That’s what this is about and that’s what you owe me.”
He added, “The return I want from this $100 million investment is your success, because your success is Africa’s success.”