Business Insights

Harvard Business School (HBS) Launches Tony Elumelu Foundation Case Study

Harvard Business School has recently published a case study that delves into the Tony Elumelu Foundation’s (TEF) distinctive approach to fostering entrepreneurship in Africa. The Foundation, which is renowned as Africa’s primary supporter of young entrepreneurs, has introduced an innovative strategy for nurturing and connecting aspiring entrepreneurs throughout the continent.

By drawing inspiration from Tony Elumelu’s personal entrepreneurial journey and recognizing the role of luck in success, the Foundation aims to democratize opportunities and promote entrepreneurship across various sectors in Africa. Embodying Elumelu’s philosophy of Africapitalism, the Foundation emphasizes the importance of the private sector in driving Africa’s development and advocates for investments that yield both social and economic benefits.

The case study, the first of its kind to focus on African philanthropy, was presented to graduate students at Harvard Business School on Thursday, February 29, 2024. It explores the Foundation’s unique strategies and impactful initiatives, highlighting how TEF’s strategic philanthropy is effecting positive change and uplifting nations and communities. Despite encountering challenges since its establishment in 2010, the Foundation has made significant strides, having funded over 20,000 entrepreneurs, digitally connected over a million individuals, and established an impact assessment framework.

With over USD$100 million disbursed and a presence in every African country, TEF continues to make a substantial impact across the continent. The Foundation is actively pursuing a collaborative approach, partnering with various institutions such as the EU, US agencies, the UNDP, the ICRC, the Ikea Foundation, and others to design customized programs that focus on fragile states, female entrepreneurs, and sustainability initiatives.

During his speech at Harvard, Tony Elumelu emphasized the Foundation’s role in creating economic hope and opportunities for African entrepreneurs. He firmly believes that entrepreneurship is the key to addressing youth unemployment and insecurity. Through the Foundation’s intervention, young people are being transformed and given hope. Elumelu believes that by working together, we can overcome the challenges faced by the continent.

Working with HBS has been a wonderful opportunity to showcase our successes, acknowledge the challenges we have encountered, and share our experiences for the benefit of others. The session at Harvard Business School provided a platform for a meaningful discussion on the impact of philanthropy in shaping sustainable and inclusive economies. In a world grappling with complex issues such as demographics, climate change, and sustainability, the Tony Elumelu Foundation’s model of strategic philanthropy offers an intriguing example of how positive change can be driven.

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