Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Program

Experience is the best teacher. What happens when we young people learn from the experience of others? We save ourselves the pain and hustle of making it in business. There are many programs that reach out to us and all we have to do is meet them halfway with our ideology to revolutionize various industries and sectors. We are the future of tomorrow. There are programs that seek to help us invest in our ideas to make the future happen. We just need to look to the right places and people to get the help we need. For young African entrepreneurs, this is where the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Program steps in.

tony elumelu entrepreneurship program

What is the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Program?

The Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship program is the core initiative of the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF). Its purpose it to find entrepreneurs with ideas that have the potential to initiate further social and economic development in Africa.

The TEF Entrepreneurship Program has set out a 10-year commitment and set aside $100 million to pinpoint, train, mentor and finance 10,000 entrepreneurs that can transform Africa through business ideas.

It has partnered with major institutions to transform visionary ideas into reality. Some of these include the African Development Bank, ECOWAS, Microsoft, International Trade Centre, The Nigerian Information and Culture ministry among many others. You will find networks and chapters of the program established in all the 54 African countries.

tony elumelu entrepreneurship program


TEF was founded in 2010 by Tony Elumelu with a goal of investing in the private sector so as to realize a transformation in the face of Africa. TEF launched the Entrepreneurship Program in 2015. Each year, the program picks out 1,000 entrepreneurs from a pool of hundreds of thousands of applicants. TEF partners help the foundation increase the number of beneficiaries and in 2019. A total of 3,050 entrepreneurs were selected.

tony elumelu entrepreneurship program

How TEF Entrepreneurship Program Benefits the Entrepreneurs

The program rolls out a program that delivers tools critical to an entrepreneurs’ success. The program includes:

·         Training: Entrepreneurs go through a 12-week intensive training program. The training focuses on delivering skills on how to set up and manage a business.

·         Mentorship: Each of the applicants gets a mentor that will guide them to create a rigid and effective business plan. The mentors are volunteers who are professionals and entrepreneurs with knowledge, experience and excellence in their respective fields.

·         Funding: TEF awards seed capital to entrepreneurs who have completed the 12-week program successfully. You will benefit from a non- refundable seed capital of $5,000 and you also access a convertible loan worth $5,000. After the training, you will be required to present a business plan, documentation and your business’ bank account.

tony elumelu entrepreneurship program

What is the Eligibility criteria for the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Program?

You will need to meet the eligibility requirements for you to be among the 1,000 entrepreneurs that are selected for the TEF Entrepreneurship Program. The requirements include:

·         Your business must be African based.

·         Your business must be profitable

·         Your business or idea must be at most 3 years old.

·         All applicants must be aged 18 and above. Furthermore, you must be a citizen or a legal resident in an African Country.

How are the Entrepreneurs judged?

TEF Entrepreneurship Program uses 5 criteria to judge your business idea. If your business surpasses each of these criteria, you will be selected to be among the 1,000 mentees. The used to judge includes:

a.       Feasibility – your business is judged on how practical and achievable it is in the modern African setting.

b.       Market Opportunity – you need to know the market surrounding your business. Who are your customers? Who are your competitors?

c.       Financial Understanding – you need to understand the financial logistics of setting up and running your business. What are your costs? What is your revenue?

d.       Scalability – Scalability of your business focuses on how you can replicate your product or service. What’s more, they measure its potential to create jobs.

e.       Leadership Potential and Entrepreneurial Skills – your leadership potential will be analysed. Are you and your business capable of attracting customers and resources?

When You Can Apply

Applications for the TEF Entrepreneurship Programs are open between 1st January at midnight and are closed on 1st March at midnight. You will not be able to apply before or after these dates. You will need to apply through the TEFConnect.

The TEFConnect is a digital platform that seeks to provide money, marketing, and business tools that will ensure the success of their business. You will need to register an account before you can apply to embark on your TEF Entrepreneurial journey.

tony elumelu entrepreneurship program


Do I need to pay an application fee?

No. the application for the TEF Entrepreneurship Program is entirely free.

Do I get to choose my mentors?

No. TEF Entrepreneurship Program allocates you a mentor.

Can I apply offline?

No. All applications are accepted via TEFConnect.

Can I apply if English is not my first language?

Yes. TEF application forms are available in French, Portuguese and English.

Can My partners and I apply?

No. If you are running a company with multiple partners, your team will need to give consent on your application. Furthermore, you need to own the majority of the shares or equal shares with your partners.

Can I apply with multiple businesses?

No. TEF application only accepts ONE business idea. Thus choose the business that has the highest feasibility, scalability and market opportunity.

When Can I Reapply?

You can reapply as many times if your business fails to be selected to be among the 1,000 entrepreneurs. However, if you succeed to join the 1,000 applicants, you CANNOT reapply again.

Are there business/ industry type restrictions?

Yes. The program does not accept faith based organizations, research organizations, businesses outside Africa, government contractors and value adding trading companies.  

Final Thoughts

Tony Elumelu created this program in an effort to give a lifeline to the business ideas of young entrepreneurs. The forum is driven by three core values, Execution, Enterprise, and Excellence.

TEF believes in the Execution of in an efficient, effective and timely manner. The Enterprise value focuses on the willingness and determination to execute your idea in a competitive business environment. Excellence is measured inconsistency and how outstanding your business idea is to provide measurable value.

Does your business have what it takes?

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