Elumelu to spend Sh9bn on startups across Africa

Nigerian dollar billionaire Tony Elumelu has unveiled a $100 million fund (about Sh9 billion) intended to nurture 10,000 entrepreneurs across Africa.

The money will be available to budding entrepreneurs from Kenya and elsewhere through an enterprise programme run by the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF).

Mr Elumelu, 51, a corporate turnaround artist who made his money in banking, was recently named as a new entrant to the Forbes Africa 50 Richest list with an estimated net worth of $1 billion.

The pan-African investor is chairman of Heirs Holdings Ltd, a firm that has a controlling stake in Transcorp Plc, a listed conglomerate with interests in the agribusiness, energy and hospitality sectors.

According to TEF, his new initiative will train, fund and mentor African entrepreneurs with the aim of creating a million jobs within a decade.

“In my business and philanthropic journeys, I have always sought ways to help inspire a generation across our continent,” says Elumelu.

Applications for the first round of funding can be made on the TEF website between January 1 and March 1 next year.

Entries are open to citizens and legal residents in all 54 African countries and applications will be accepted in English, French and Portuguese.

Those chosen will get seed funding and 12 weeks of business skills training. They will also be put through their paces at an entrepreneurship “boot camp”.

A panel of African business leaders will select 1,000 startups to enter the programme each year. It includes celebrated Kenyan activist, lawyer and blogger Ory Okolloh, often cited as one of Africa’s most influential voices. A former director of policy at Google Kenya, she is currently the director of investments at Omidyar Network.

Other judges include Ayodeji Adewunmi, co-founder of Nigerian job search site Jobberman, Opunimi Akinkugbe, CEO of African board game company Bestman Games, and Monica Musonda, chief executive Zambia-based Java Food.