Nigerian billionaire Tony Elumelu recently announced the selection of the first 1 000 African entrepreneurs he will sponsor for his Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Program (TEEP). The program is a $100 million initiative which is set to discover and support 10 000 African entrepreneurs over the next decade, with a target to create 1 million new jobs and $10 billion in additional revenues in the process. Local celebrity Lerato Motshwarakgole, Mavis Nduchwa and Hosea Chokwe are the first Batswana to benefit. In an interview with Time Out the elated Motshwarakgole revealed that she would be investing her share on education and training. “I asked myself this question before I concluded my proposal; What do Batswana need right now? And I saw a gap in the education sector especially training. Before someone can do anything they need basic training which is another alternative form of learning. Education is not where it is supposed to be in Botswana and in the coming years I want to see change,” she said.
Speaking to another beneficiary, Nchwa she said she has always been passionate about the agricultural sector and with the funds she will get to see her dream come true. “I got to know about this program through a friend of mine who was visiting me from Uganda, she saw my passion for agriculture and recommended it to me. Other than the fact that I am passionate about agriculture, I believe Africa’s socio-economic transformation, its industrial revolution, lies right beneath our feet. As a country, we still import food when we have the potential to feed ourselves and the world. Agriculture can do so much for our economy. I also learnt that the other beneficiary Hosea will also be investing in agriculture,” said the 32 year old Nchwa.
The selected entrepreneurs will go through the programme cycle over the next nine months. This cycle includes intensive class based training, mentoring, participation in a two-day entrepreneurship boot-camp, and the Elumelu Entrepreneurship Forum. “We will travel to Lagos where we will break down how much funds each one of us needs for our businesses. After that we will attend master classes and workshops where we would be mentored on how to successfully run our businesses.”
Speaking on the desired impact of the programme, Elumelu said , “The selection of these 1000 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. 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.”
Motshwarakgole advised that such initiatives go to show that our Government is not the only source of funding and encouraged Batswana to expand their networks in order to benefit from global initiatives. “As Batswana we have this tendency to doubt ourselves but we need to hang out with key game changers and start looking for opportunities out there. Over 20,000 African entrepreneurs from 52 countries applied for this programme. I would also like to encourage next year’s applicants to get their A-game on and apply to all initiatives that can help boost our economy. However, I am still an actress and all that Generation drama has motivated me to become my own boss,” she said.