Uganda’s Prime Minister, Rt. Hon. Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda on Saturday spoke at this year’s Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Foundation (TEF) forum in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja.
Rugunda who represented the government of Uganda praised TEF for addressing the mind-set of emerging African entrepreneurs.
“This program is promoting Pan Africanism. It will help to consolidate unity of African take advantage of the Free Trade Area that has been established by our leaders on the continent. We need to give more support and mentor-ship to them so that they can compete without cultural and property ownership problems that are working as impediments,” Rugunda said.
He added, “And I believe that the Elumelu foundation is a good example of inventively working out a program which suits the youth and has demonstrated success where almost 5000 young Africans have benefited from the program. And the program has been so successful that it has attracted partners like our friends from Europe, African Development Bank and many other institutions and indeed, it has also mobilized us in government in Africa to support that program. Therefore, I salute this program because it is going to touch on mind-set change.”
TEF is the brainchild of UBA Group Chairman Mr. Tony Elumelu, with the vision of empowering 100,000 African Entrepreneurs on the African Continent through his foundation.
This year’s forum taking place at the iconic Transcorp Hilton Hotel in Abuja, held under the theme; “Empowering African Entrepreneurs,” exposes African Entrepreneurs to UBA special products and services that will support their business and personal development.
The forum, now in its fifth year featured masterclasses, a dynamic pitching competition, electrifying panel debates, and the Presidential Dialogue. It engaged an audience of 5,000 comprising of start-up entrepreneurs, development institutions and policymakers.
The two-day forum, which was launched on Friday, July 26 and ended on 27th July, brought together over African Entrepreneurs from across the African Continent on an all-expenses paid trip to sell their goods and products to over 5,000 guests at the largest gathering of African Entrepreneurs, policymakers and business leaders in one location.
On Saturday, African leaders including; Rugunda, Felix Tshisekedi, President of the Democratic Peoples Republic of Congo (DRC), Rwanda’s Paul Kagame, Macky Sall of Senegal and Nigeria’s Muhammad Buhari spoke at the president’s forum. Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, President of AFDB was also at the forum.
On the high risks faced by young people in business, Rugunda said;
“I think one of the problems is that we may be transferring models of loans that are for the well to do, imposing them on young people and they find that they cannot copy. So the problem may be more with us other than being with young people. therefore, let us be innovative, look at the young people, interact with them and see what works for them and support.”
Happening on the side-lines of the forum was the United Bank for Africa (UBA) Marketplace.
The UBA Marketplace is an online store that was made physical to pre-launch the during the TEF forum.
As part of the activities, the event also played host to businesses and business owners in various industries including food, fashion, beauty, home/interior and gadgets.
Through the UBA Marketplace, the foundation hopes to connect over one thousand businesses on the continent to boost intra African trade through this summit that brings together African entrepreneurs, dignitaries and business owners to share ideas on the growth of the African economy.
Inspired by Tony Elumelu’s economic philosophy of Africapitalism and his vision to institutionalize luck and democratize opportunity for a new generation of African entrepreneurs, the Foundation has implemented one of the most ambitious entrepreneurship programmes globally. Selected entrepreneurs from previous years have transformed their businesses and their communities after gaining from the Programme’s 7 pillars: $5,000 in seed capital; business development training; one-on-one mentoring; access to TEFConnect; Pan-African meetups; TEF network membership; and participation at the annual TEF Entrepreneurship Forum, the largest convening of the African entrepreneurship ecosystem.