Elumelu to fund innovative ideas in rural Kenya


President Uhuru Kenyatta (right) with Tony Elumelu, Chairman of United Bank for Africa and Founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation at State House, Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG

United Bank for Africa (UBA) and the Tony Elumelu Foundation are targeting to fund innovative business ideas from rural areas in Kenya as part of its Covid-19 recovery plan this year.

The firm is seeking applications from Kenyans who have “brilliant, scalable ideas”.

The applications, which opened in January and closes end of this month, comes at a time that most small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are reeling from the economic fallout of Covid-19.

“In 2021, the Foundation, will identify, train, mentor and fund over 3,500 entrepreneurs across Africa. The Programme remains open to all entrepreneurs across Kenya, both new start-ups and existing businesses operating in any sector,” acting UBA Kenya chief executive Kehinde Omirinde said in an interview.

UBA, Mr Omirinde said, has done aggressive registration drive to reach more ideas in rural areas which are less developed. In 2019, TEF said that about 70 percent of applications come from urban areas while the remaining come from rural areas.

Run by Nigerian philanthropist Tony Elumelu, the Foundation said that it wants to execute the largest Covid-19 economic recovery plan for African SMEs and break the cycle of poverty in Africa.

With just a few days to the close of applications, UBA Kenya is calling on young Kenyans to take advantage of the business financing and mentoring to grow their ideas.

“We encourage all young Kenyans with brilliant business ideas or start-ups to apply on This year we aim to reach ideas from rural areas through our ongoing aggressive registration drive campaign,” Mr Omirinde said.

The foundation will give 3,000 awards instead of the usual 1,000 to aid the continent in its Covid-19 recovery.

Selected entrepreneurs get a 12-week online training on managing enterprises, mentorship on transforming business at its early stages, a seed capital of Sh500,000 ($5,000) and networking opportunities.

This is the seventh edition of the TEF’s 10-year $100 million commitment to identify, train, mentor and fund 10,000 African entrepreneurs by 2024.

It has to date empowered over 9,000 beneficiaries from all 54 African countries, with training, mentorship and seed funding.