Africa’s leading entrepreneurship philanthropy, the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF), is launching TEFConnect, the world’s largest digital platform for African entrepreneurs and the African entrepreneurship ecosystem.

TEFConnect will officially be unveiled at this year’s TEF Forum, taking place on 25 October 2018 in Lagos, Nigeria.

In 2015, TEF set aside US$100 million for an entrepreneurship programme to train, mentor and fund 10 000 young African entrepreneurs by 2024. Every year, the TEF entrepreneurship programme attracts thousands of applications from different countries in Africa.

Harnessing and building on the success of Africa’s largest entrepreneurship catalyst, the TEF entrepreneurship programme, which has attracted over 300 000 African entrepreneurs as applicants and trained and funded 4 460 to date, the foundation is further democratising access to opportunity. TEFConnect is an open-source platform, which will provide bespoke tools and content to catalyse business development for millions across the continent, through technology and directly applicable content.

Photo credit: The Tony Elumelu Foundation

A statement on the foundation’s website said, “Positioned as the “Facebook for African Entrepreneurs”, the TEFConnect platform is a contemporary, intuitive, informative and user-friendly go-to entrepreneurship space that provides five specific benefits to its users, among others. The benefits include a one-stop digital home for entrepreneurship ecosystem players, including entrepreneurs, incubators, investors, academia and the private sector; providing news, informative resources, entrepreneurship events and opportunities; creating the space to allow African entrepreneurs to transact across countries and regions in Africa’s largest digital marketplace, with traffic reaching millions of consumers and providing access to free business tools such as financial planning calculators, business plan generators and marketing templates.”

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Further, the digital platform will provide access to the foundation’s entrepreneurship programme application form, enterprise toolkit and business mentoring by global business leaders and enabling entrepreneurs to promote their businesses to potential investors and other entrepreneurs for cross-border collaboration.

Speaking at the launch of TEFConnect, the CEO of the foundation, Parminder Vir OBE, said: “The Tony Elumelu Foundation is simply about empowering African entrepreneurs. First, we launched the TEF Entrepreneurship Programme to provide 10 000 African entrepreneurs, over a period of 10 years, with seed capital, mentorship and training. Next, we convened the full entrepreneurial ecosystem at the TEF Forum to foment engagement and deliberate discussions to change the narrative of Africa. Now, we are scaling our impact by connecting the African entrepreneurship ecosystem on a single platform.”

The Tony Elumelu Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Heirs Holdings, an African investment firm. Photo: Facebook/TonyElumelu

The founder of the TEF, Tony Elumelu, said: “In the four years since the launch of the TEF Entrepreneurship Programme, we have shown that entrepreneurship can change a continent – we have invested in people and processes. We have already helped create business successes and brought policymakers into the entrepreneurial dynamic. But in many ways, we are scratching the surface.”

“This year we are broadening our scope, taking the conversation to where interaction is increasingly occurring – the digital realm. By connecting African entrepreneurs globally on TEFConnect, we are further unleashing the true potential of our entrepreneurs and transforming the continent,” Elumelu added.

The 4th TEF Forum will convene Africa’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, including the broad investor community, government and policymakers, leading developmental organisations, private sector representatives, the media and partners.

This year’s forum will also feature an interactive dialogue between the president of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo, and the president of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta, moderated by Tony Elumelu.

Earlier in July, the president of France, Emmanuel Macron, visited the foundation and signed a €1 billion financial agreement on development finance to boost African entrepreneurship.