……As TEF Hosts Vibrant Session With Nearly 2000 Entrepreneurs
President of France, Emmanuel Macron offered a bold and new vision of France’s relationship with Africa while speaking during his visit to Nigeria and his engagement with Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurs in Lagos.
Macron passionately advocated a new partnership, prioritizing the role of entrepreneurship in driving Africa’s renaissance, highlighting the importance of the private sector and urging the creation of a business ecosystem that leverages Africa’s vibrant private sector and most importantly saying Africa’s future was and should be in Africa’s hands.
Macron spoke at a vibrant, no-holds barred interactive session, in front of 2,000 alumni of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, who sought advice from the youthful President on how to grow their businesses, reach European markets, amidst rising nationalism and an emerging trade wars and the secrets of his political success.
Macron’s experience of an outsider, who transformed French politics and spoke directly to and not at the audience, electrified the room.
“To young African entrepreneurs: never listen to people who are telling you to wait,” he said. “If you believe in your projects: just do it. Our role is to help the new generation to seize opportunities and rise to the challenge. This is what underpins a new, balanced relationship.”
The Founder of TEF, Chairman of Heirs Holdings and United Bank for Africa, Tony O. Elumelu, who moderated the event opened the session by acknowledging the importance of the occasion for African entrepreneurship said: “The French President recognises the critical importance of African entrepreneurs to sustainable economic development on the continent – he knows the African narrative is changing and will change. His voice is refreshing and welcome”.
He added: “We want France and the rest of the world to realise that Africa is a continent of opportunities.”
The two leaders stood side-by-side, surrounded by emerging and established business women and men from across Africa, during an exciting and at times charged session.
Elumelu sought questions from the audience, while President Macron answered on a range of issues from migration, to French and European markets, the role of ECOWAS and regional integration.
Concluding the event, the Tony Elumelu Foundation signed an agreement with the Agence Française de Développement (AFD), the French development bank. The agreement established a research partnership to examine the entrepreneurship ecosystem in West Africa, with a special focus on francophone countries, a risk-sharing guarantee framework and access to high-level mentors for TEF entrepreneurs.
The young people in attendance included beneficiaries of various Foundation programmes, including the groundbreaking TEF Entrepreneurship Programme – the Founder’s $100 million commitment to identify, train, mentor and fund 10,000 entrepreneurs from across Africa over 10 years.
Established in 2010, The Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) is the leading philanthropy in Africa championing entrepreneurship and entrepreneurs across the continent. The Foundation’s long-term investment in empowering African entrepreneurs is emblematic of Tony Elumelu’s philosophy of Africapitalism, which positions Africa’s private sector, and most importantly entrepreneurs, as the catalyst for the social and economic development of the continent. The Foundation’s flagship initiative, the TEF Entrepreneurship Programme, is a 10-year, $100 million commitment to identify, train mentor and fund 10,000 entrepreneurs, capable of changing the face of business across Africa. http://www.tonyelumelufoundation.org @tonyelumeluFDN