With African entrepreneurs raising more than $4 billion in funding in 2021, more than double the $1.5 billion raised in 2020, it’s clear investors around the globe are waking up to the continent’s potential. For some, like philanthropist Tony Elumelu, this growth is the validation of a long track record of backing African entrepreneurship.
Through the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF), he has helped empower African entrepreneurs from across the continent. To date, TEF has distributed more than $85 million in grants for seed capital, and supported more than 1.5 million entrepreneurs from all 54 African countries through its proprietary digital platform, TEFConnect.net. Google is similarly enthusiastic about African startups and has supported them with funding, mentorship and skills development, among other things. That’s what makes it so exciting that TEF and Google’s paths are once again converging in 2022.
Last year, Google.org committed $3 million to the TEF to support an additional 500 female entrepreneurs across the continent. To further support the effort, this year, nine Google employees from Africa and Europe will devote six months of their time and expertise to TEF as part of the first Google.org Fellowship in Sub-Saharan Africa. Composed of engineers, user experience (UX) specialists and business and marketing managers, these Googlers will work with TEF full-time, pro bono, to build a new TEFConnect platform, equipped with new tools to help entrepreneurs access the resources they need to succeed.
We hope to support TEF in reaching one million more African entrepreneurs through the new TEFConnect, expected to launch later this year. The improved, more mobile-friendly TEFConnect platform will give those entrepreneurs access to a catalog of more curated educational resources, and more avenues for funding.
Additionally, as the world kicks off a month of celebration for International Women’s Day, Google.org and The Tony Elumelu Foundation want to mark the occasion. As part of these collective celebrations, we will convene policymakers, private sector and entrepreneurs to engage in a discussion about entrepreneurship on the continent. We will hear from female entrepreneurs who have benefited from the Tony Elumelu Foundation’s support, as well as from notable leaders.
As the year 2022 progresses, we want to play a larger role in supporting the world’s next generation of entrepreneurs. Africa’s citizenry is youthful, optimistic and enterprising. There is so much to be gained by leveling the digital playing field and creating possibilities that will raise the ceiling for the continent’s population.
By bringing together people from the private and public sector and supporting entrepreneurs in areas that will make the most difference, we can go a long way to helping Africa’s entrepreneurs reach their full potential.