45,000 Africans Apply For 1,000 Spots In Elumelu Entrepreneur Program

45,000 Africans Apply For 1,000 Spots In Elumelu Entrepreneur Program

Kenyan textile entrepreneur Timothy Murithi has increased production capacity at his silkworm company to 200,000 silkworms with the help of seed money and mentoring from the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme.


The CEO of Seritex, Murithi has been able to train 10 additional staff members to rear silkworms and plant mulberry trees, according to the TonyElumeluFoundation. The entrepreneur now has an office furnished with equipment needed to operate a business.

More than 45,000 entrepreneurs from 54 African countries applied, but just 1,000 were chosen to receive funding, mentoring and intensive online training in the second round of the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme.

The program, which was launched in 2015, is the largest-ever African philanthropic initiative devoted to entrepreneurship, according to a press release by the Tony Elumelu Foundation.

An economist by training, entrepreneur and philanthropist Elumelu aims to identify and help grow 10,000 start-ups and young businesses from across Africa over 10 years. These businesses are expected to create 1 million new jobs and contribute $10 billion in annual revenues to Africa’s economy.

The 10,000 start-ups selected from applicants across Africa participate in a program that includes a customized 12-week business skills training course, mentoring, entrepreneurship boot camp and seed capital funding.

Elumelu isn’t the richest man in Africa. Forbes ranks him at No. 31 on its Africa’s 50 Richest 2015 with a net worth of $700 million.

He owns a controlling interest in Transcorp, a publicly traded Nigerian conglomerate with interests in hospitality, agriculture, oil production and power generation.

Elumelu made his fortune by buying and turning around a small, struggling Nigerian commercial bank that became United Bank of Africa Group, a leading financial services institution operating in several African countries, New York and London, Forbes reports.

He stepped down as the bank’s CEO in 2010 to focus on investing in African businesses through his private investment vehicle, Heirs Holdings and to groom Africa’s next generation of business leaders through his Tony Elumelu Foundation.

Elumelu also owns extensive real estate across Nigeria and a minority stake in mobile telecom firm MTN Nigeria, among other assets, according to Forbes.

Applicants for the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme more than doubled in 2016 compared to 2015, according to the foundation.

Successful candidates represent diverse industries, but leading industries among applicants include agriculture, ICT and fashion.

The greatest number of applicants came from Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, Uganda and Cameroon.

In the program’s first year, Elumelu spent over $8 million of its $100 million commitment with $5 million going directly to entrepreneurs as seed capital, Elumelu said in a prepared statement.

“The results have far exceeded our expectations,” Elumelu said. “We have funded entrepreneurs, established networks and helped extraordinary people take control of their destinies.

“The 2016 Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurs will become a generation of newly empowered African business owners, who are the clearest evidence yet, that indigenous business growth will drive Africa’s economic and social transformation.”