After being selected with two other Batswana to participate in the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme (TEEP), a $100 million initiative to discover and support 10,000 African entrepreneurs over the next decade, Lerato Motshwarakgole shared her boot camp experience with Time Out. A total of 1000 African entrepreneurs were selected for the just ended boot camp. Tony Elumelu is a billionaire Nigerian entrepreneur.
“We underwent intensive mentorship. The mentors we were assigned dedicated their time and business experience for the objective of the program, which is not only to give us money to start businesses, but to teach us how to invest it properly. They taught us to stay on track to complete our business plans as well as to build a business with a solid foundation and I loved every minute of it. I did not come back the same person I was when I went to Nigeria because I have absorbed a lot that would help me start my business. We were inspired with new ideas, new business strategies and learnt more about the realities of doing business in Africa from African startups,” said Motshwarakgole.
The 1000 entrepreneurs represented a wide range of sectors, from fashion and ICT to agriculture and education to energy. They enjoyed interactive sessions with successful entrepreneurs, business and political leaders who gave a series of lectures on business development, financial management, corporate governance and other facets of a successful enterprise. The programme culminated in an open mic session with Tony Elumelu, the Nigerian banker and philanthropist who funds TEEP. For Motshwarakgole, who revealed that she will be investing in education, said she got the chance to meet Elumelu during a four hour lecture. She was, however, unhappy at the few women participants; “Only twenty percent of the selected entrepreneurs were women and that is a small number. I would like to see more women taking advantage of this opportunity next year and would like to urge Batswana to take advantage of this opportunity. I am planning an event where I will raise awareness among Batswana about the program. As I was going through the profiles of people who were selected for the program, I realised that they were very competitive, but competition can be good as it teaches us to stay on our feet.”
Motshwarakgole further said she will not be disclosing any information about her company yet as she believes her actions will speak louder than words. She also added that while she was in Lagos a lot of opportunities opened up but her business is currently the main priority.
Forbes Magazine recently quoted Elumelu as having told the entrepreneurs that he was investing in their success, while reiterating his belief that entrepreneurship was the way to drive Africa’s economic prosperity. “I want to go to Zambia when I am 80 years old and meet someone who shows me their manufacturing business or financial institution and tells me that it was built with the $10,000 from Tony Elumelu. That is what this is about, and that is what you owe me. The return I want from this $100 million investment is your success, because your success is Africa’s success,” he was quoted as having said.