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Nigerian tycoon shortlists 167 Kenyan start-ups for funding

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Nigerian tycoon Tony Elumelu: These entrepreneurs are Africa’s hope for the future. PHOTO | FILE

Nigerian dollar billionaire and philanthropist Tony Elumelu has selected 167 Kenyan entrepreneurs to benefit from his Sh9.2 billion start-up fund targeting 10,000 enterprises across Africa.

The Tony Elumelu Foundation is seeking to discover and support business ideas over the next decade and create one million new jobs and Sh919.5 billion ($10 billion) revenue in the process.

Mr Elumelu is also the chairman of UBA Bank which has operations in Kenya. Over 20,000 African entrepreneurs from 52 countries applied for the programme. The top five countries in terms of number of winners were drawn from Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, South Africa and Ghana.

“The selection of these 1,000 entrepreneurs brings us closer to our ultimate goal — to drive Africa’s economic and social transformation from within and to radically intensify job creation in Africa.  Though I have never met or spoken to any of the winners, I am confident that due to the rigorous criteria and selection process, these entrepreneurs are Africa’s hope for the future,” said Mr Elumelu in a statement on Tuesday.

“I will continue to invest my experience, time, influence, and resources to see them succeed.  I am embarking on this journey with these entrepreneurs hopeful and inspired,” he added

The finalists were picked from different sectors ranging from agriculture, education, health, fashion and ICT.

READ: Elumelu to spend Sh9bn on startups across Africa

The 1,000 selected entrepreneurs will go through a training over the next nine months. The phase include an intensive online training, mentoring, and participation in entrepreneurship boot-camps to hone their business innovation skills.

The Tony Elumelu Foundation was founded in 2010 with an obligation to drive African economic growth, through empowering African entrepreneurship.

Last month, The Tony Elumelu Foundation board of trustees picked Reid Whitlock to replace foundation’s inaugural chief executive Wiebe Boer.

Mr Elumelu operates a pan-African proprietary investment firm that has a controlling stake in Transcorp Plc., a listed conglomerate with interests in the agribusiness, energy and hospitality sectors.

“The high quantity and quality of applicants we have received is testament to the brilliant ideas and incredible talent that exists in abundance across Africa,” said Parminder Vir OBE, Director of Entrepreneurship at the Tony Elumelu Foundation.