Tony Elumelu Foundation hosts leaders from the Rockefeller Foundation, US Administration, WTO, UNDP, IFC, and UNICEF; encourages fair relationships in order to inspire a fresh wave of environmentally conscious businesspeople; announces collaboration with UNICEF Generation Unlimited, the Ikea Foundation, and the Dutch government to support young African entrepreneurs in the green industry; Obtains pledges from the US State Department, World Trade Organization, World Bank, UNDP, Government of Sweden, IFC, and others to assist Africa’s young in promoting climate resilience.
Tony Elumelu addressed world leaders at a number of COP28 events with the one message that Africa must be heard, that its future is the future of the world, and that it is the continent most affected by climate change yet contributes the least to it. The future of Africa’s youth, who are expected to make up one-third of the world’s population later this century, must be given top priority since they are resilient, ambitious, and enterprising.
In order to spur the development of a new generation of African entrepreneurs capable of addressing climate change and advancing the wider wealth creation that Africa needs, Elumelu made available to partners the infrastructure and experience of his own Foundation’s ten-year, $100 million entrepreneurship initiative. The Elumelu model of sector-agnostic seed investment, coaching, and networking has had a significant impact on young entrepreneurs in every African nation.
The world gathers annually for the COP UN Climate Change Conferences to evaluate the state of the fight against climate change. Elumelu, who has enabled thousands of green entrepreneurs through the Tony Elumelu Foundation, is one of Africa’s foremost proponents of an inclusive agenda for climate action, helping to shape a more sustainable future for the continent.
The Tony Elumelu Foundation, in collaboration with the United Bank for Africa (UBA), organized a high-level gathering that brought together Africans and influential figures from the Gulf, Europe, and the Americas—regions in which UBA operates. The purpose of the gathering was to highlight the pressing need for creative solutions for climate adaptation and mitigation, as well as to promote sustainable development and highlight Africa’s special status.
among the speakers are Dr. Okonjo Iweala, Director General, World Trade Organization; Kevin Frey, CEO, UNICEF Generation Unlimited; Ahunna Eziakonwa, Assistant Administrator and Regional Director for Africa, UNDP, Sergio Pimenta, VP Africa, IFC; Adam Wang-Levine, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary for Climate; Wendy Teleki, Head of the Women Entrepreneurs Financial Initiative, World Bank; Joseph Nganga, Vice President, Global Energy Alliance for People and Planet, Rockefeller Foundation; Serge Ekué, Chairman, West African Development Bank (BOAD); Hassan Al Hashemi, VP International Relations, Dubai Chambers; Mattias Frumerie, Swedish Climate Ambassador and Head of Delegation, UNFCCC and Muyiwa Akinyemi, Deputy Group Managing Director, United Bank for Africa.
“The most important task of our time is combating climate change. There is no mistaking the urgency. Elumelu said. “It is imperative that African voices and the continent as a whole take center stage in international climate discussions as engaged participants rather than as spectators. Africa bears a disproportionate amount of the blame for climate change and is least responsible. In order for others to profit from and make use of the infrastructure and platform we have built to reach businesses throughout Africa, I am investing in a new generation of environmentally conscious business owners. We are also reaching out in cooperation with them.
Elumelu represented the business sector in Africa at the New Global Financing Pact in 2023, which was held in Paris at the invitation of French President Emmanuel Macron, and the Climate Finance Mobilization Forum in London, which was hosted by US President Biden and UK King Charles III. The Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF), in collaboration with the IKEA Foundation, Dutch Government, and UNICEF GenU, unveiled the first-ever Green Entrepreneurship Programme, the #BeGreenAfrica Initiative, at the 78th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA78) in New York. The initiative’s goal is to promote green entrepreneurship and youth development.
Tony Elumelu Marie-Christiana Kola, a green economy entrepreneur from Madagascar, gave a powerful impact story. “As a recipient of the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship program, I was able to develop a hand soap that is 100% biodegradable and recyclable, using leftover cooking oil—the leading source of water pollution in African cities. These soaps are not only environmentally friendly, but they also show unity. I was awarded the Innovation Prize during the COP27 summit in Egypt, which I was also able to attend. I now employ more than thirty people thanks to the Tony Elumelu Foundation.
Dr. Okonjo Iweala, DG, World Trade Organization, said at the TEF #COP28 high-level event: “I am proud of what my brother, Tony Elumelu, has done in empowering and inspiring so many young entrepreneurs.” The future is green; we don’t have an option. Two characteristics define the growth of the future: it must be inclusive and green. I would be very interested in collaborating with TEF-type organizations.
“The reason why UNDP associated itself with the Tony Elumelu Foundation years ago is because of the leadership and courage of the Foundation to trust and invest in young Africans,” stated Ahunna Eziakonwa, Assistant Administrator and Regional Director for Africa, UNDP. It was among the first organizations to act in that capacity.
With an ambitious mission to influence the lives of one million young Africans, the Foundation teamed with the UNDP to empower thousands of people in the Sahel.
“Tony, I salute you and your Foundation for what you have been doing to support young entrepreneurs in Africa,” said Sergio Pimenta, vice president of the IFC for Africa. In the most recent fiscal year, the IFC provided $2 billion in loans to African SMEs, and we are thrilled to be able to contribute more by collaborating with you.
UNICEF Generation Unlimited CEO Kevin Frey continued, “We have made a deliberate effort to enter the entrepreneurial area with TEF. With the backing of the IKEA Foundation and the Dutch government, Generation Unlimited has expanded its flagship program, #BeGreenAfrica, in collaboration with the Tony Elumelu Foundation from Kenya to Nigeria, Morocco, South Africa, and Senegal. In the course of the pilot project in those nations, this year we will teach and fund 500 green entrepreneurs. Tony, once again, thank you very much. You are correct—partnerships are key.
“Our women-focused initiative has been able to secure $3.6 billion to finance women entrepreneurs in 67 countries across the world,” said Wendy Teleki, Head of the Women Entrepreneurs Financial Initiative at the World Bank. “We are keen to work with the Tony Elumelu Foundation and are set to launch a new program focused on financing African women entrepreneurs to drive the continent’s green energy transition.”
“My Government and I commend the Tony Elumelu Foundation’s incredible impact across Africa. We will facilitate connections between the Tony Elumelu Foundation and the Swedish embassies across Africa to drive innovation, digitalization, and green-energy transition, which promises to bring about new jobs and growth,” said Mattias Frumerie, the head of Sweden’s UNFCCC delegation and climate ambassador.
“I worked in venture capital before coming to the United States Treasury, and I know firsthand that the work the Tony Elumelu Foundation is doing is extremely important,” said Adam Wang-Levine, the country’s deputy assistant secretary for climate. Similar to Silicon Valley, which promotes innovation and the creation of jobs, I have witnessed two cornerstones of their work: funding and mentorship. We can’t wait to start talking about partnerships.
United Bank for Africa’s deputy general manager, Muyiwa Akinyemi, declared, “We at UBA provide market access into 20 African regions. Because Africa is the center of all we do, we have collaborated with the Afrexim Bank to develop a $6 billion fund for SMEs that will work in four critical areas, including reducing climate emissions. The fund will be focused on import substitution.
Tony Elumelu participated in a panel discussion earlier in the day titled “Big, Audacious and Green: A Convergence of Visionaries,” which was led by Børge Brende, President of the World Economic Forum. The panel included Ajay Banga, President of the World Bank Group; Brian Moynihan, Chair of the Board and CEO of Bank of America; Ms. Ruth Porat, President, Alphabet and Google; and Ms. Laurene Powell Jobs, Founder & President of Emerson Collective.
On Sunday, December 3, under the moderated leadership of Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton, Mr. Tony Elumelu took part in a fireside chat with Ms. Teresa Ribera, Vice President of the Government of Spain and Minister for Ecological Transition and Demographic Change. The World Health Organization’s Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, gave the closing remarks.