The Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) today in Lagos hosted His Excellency, The President of France, Mr. Emmanuel Macron to an Interaction Session with over 2,000 African entrepreneurs. The event which held at the Eko Hotel, attracted dignitaries including Mr. Jim Ovia, Atedo Peterside, Donald Duke, Femi Kuti and the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Sanusi.
It provided an immense learning and networking opportunity for African and French businesses and entrepreneurs. Speaking at the event, the CEO of TEF, Mrs. Parminder Vir, Said that “TEF was designed to democratize opportunity in Africa and to build a sustainable ecosystem for African Entrepreneurs working in tandem with policy makers, the business community, the academia and the international community. The TEF is focused on changing the African narratives from negatives to positives and affirmatives”.
The Founder of TEF, Mr. Tony Elumelu, while introducing the French President said that TEF is helping our political leaders to see the potent power of the youth and their entrepreneurial spirit, that Africa is now a world of opportunities.
In his speech, the French President said that he is fully convinced on the future of Africa and that his conviction is based on the fact that the Africa is young with two-thirds of its population under 35 years. “This generation has lots of opportunities and responsibilities which should be about building the new African narratives through technology, culture, innovation and enterprise”. No body, he said should decide the Future for Africa, “Africa should be one to decide its future, Africa is the one to decide for Africa and design its own model and build legacies that would last for generations”.
“If Africa does not succeed, France and Europe will not succeed for two reasons first because they are not isolated and secondly enterprise and innovation is part of the answer to the African narrative. This he said is part of the reason why France decided to launch the digital African initiative designed to connect African entrepreneurs with others, to the market, with investors and to work with large scale companies to scale”.
According to him, it is all about innovation and disruption. He stressed that “the private sector is part of the answer and that is why I am a strong believer in the African private sector. A strong private sector will lead to inclusive growth and is the best way to have a sustainable growth and sustainable political life”.
He further said that the French initiative will invest about one billion Euros in the African private sector because “we need Africans to succeed in Africa and for Europeans to understand Africa”.
Answering a question from one of the TEF entrepreneurs on what advice to give to young entrepreneurs, he said, “Take your risks, there is no success without risks. Never stop at your failures. I failed a lot of times but I learnt from my failures and never stopped”. Contributing to the answer, Tony Elumelu, said that “what is more important is the lessons you learn from the failures”.
Concluding, the French President said that “if you do not have a vision that is sustainable for all those around you, you are not successful and what Africa needs is a strong regional integration for already, the African market is large for African entrepreneurs to succeed. Such integration according to him will help checkmate such things as forced and early marriage, lack of girl child education, large families also of which work to keep people in poverty and force so may take undue risks and migrate to Europe and elsewhere.
It will be recalled that yesterday in Abuja, Nigeria’s Muhammadu Buhari and French Emmanuel Macron witnessed the signing of several bilateral agreements to the tune of $475 million loans as art of activities making the visit of the French President to Nigeria.
Earlier today, Mr. Macron was at the Africa Shrine in Ikeja where he noted that the future of Africa and the task of making it great rested with Africans and that the youths have a critical role to play in this. “Africa needs a new generation of Africans to share the new narrative about Africa all over the world”.
Concluding the Interactive session, L’Agence Française de Développement (AFD) and TEF signed a collaborative documents aimed at supporting African Entrepreneurs. Essentially the signed agreement is to to establish a research partnership, a risk-sharing guarantee framework and access to high-level mentors for TEF entrepreneurs.