UNDP announced in Abuja, it will be supporting over 750 entrepreneurs across the continent. This was done during the official announcement of successful applicants for the fifth cohort of entrepreneurs to be admitted into the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) programme for entrepreneurship development. The investment by UNDP towards the 2019 cohort, in excess of US$3.7 million, is made up of contributions from selected UNDP country offices across the continent, including Nigeria.
In 2017 UNDP signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Foundation with the intention to undertake initiatives that would meet both UNDP and the Foundation’s mission of addressing development challenges through entrepreneurship. The Foundation, established in 2010, a leading philanthropy in Africa championing entrepreneurship, has developed a ten-year programme aimed supporting entrepreneurs across the continent.
The partnership with UNDP is aimed at exploring several areas of collaboration among them the following;
- Providing entrepreneurship skills training to start-ups and emerging African entrepreneurs;
- Delivering Business Development Services (BDS) necessary for start-ups and existing SMEs across Africa for growth and diversification;
- Promoting innovation, technology development, networks and market linkages among African Entrepreneurs;
The two institutions also intend to undertake initiatives that promote access to affordable credit, guarantees and other financial services suitable for start-ups and small businesses in Africa. This will be in addition to fostering partnerships with State and non-State actors aimed at improving policy and business environment for local enterprises development in Africa.
The event in Abuja was graced by the First Lady of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Madam Aisha Buhari who recognized, with appreciation, the important role the initiative by UNDP, the Foundation and partners were playing in supporting the growth of entrepreneurship, especially in Nigeria, where youth unemployment remained a huge development challenge.
During the event, Acting Resident Representative for UNDP in Nigeria, Ms. Khardiata Lo Ndiaye, who represented UNDP Regional Bureau for Africa (RBA) Director, Ms Ahunna Eziakonwa, met with the Founder of the Foundation, Mr. Tony Elumelu and incoming Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for the Foundation Ms. Ifeyinwa Ugochukwu to whom she reaffirmed UNDP’s commitment the partnership.
Mr. Elumelu, expressed deep appreciation for the partnership with UNDP as it had helped broaden the support base for entrepreneurs beyond the annual target of 1000 the Foundation had planned during the course of its programme. He pointed out the need for stronger partnership with national governments and the need favourable operating environments for the expansion of opportunities to enable small businesses in Africa to thrive and succeed.
UNDP Nigeria has developed a national programme aimed promoting entrepreneurship, innovation and employability in the country. During the previous year, over 300 youths, men and women (including returning migrants, victims of Boko Haram insurgency) have been trained in various vocational and entrepreneurship skills. Some of them now own their own businesses.
In partnership with the Lagos State Government, through the Employability Support Project, thousands of youths in Lagos State are being trained in market-driven skills in Hospitality, Manufacturing, Garment making, Entertainment, Construction and Health care. Beneficiaries of this intervention are certified and recruited by different companies across the State. Others are starting their own businesses.