CNN’s Marketplace Africa meets entrepreneur Tony Elumelu
On Marketplace Africa, host Eleni Giokos interviews Nigerian economist and entrepreneur, Tony Elumelu. In 2010, the entrepreneur started The Tony Elumelu Foundation which today has become one of the largest philanthropic initiatives in Africa.
Elumelu tells the programme why helping businesses has a significant impact on the economy of a country. He says: “We believe that we have to encourage these businesses. We have to make provisions for these businesses to grow in order to grow the economy, in order to provide even other jobs for other people. It starts a ripple effect.
One person is providing jobs for a hundred other people, and each of them in return providing jobs for another set of hundred people, and that will develop the economy. Not just in Nigeria.”
Along with his wife Awele Vivian Elumelu, Tony Elumelu aims to create a million jobs within the next decade through his foundation. He tells CNN: “We’re hoping to create a million jobs through the intervention of 10,000 young African entrepreneurs. You need to understand that big corporations, per se, don’t really create more jobs.
It is small and medium-sized enterprises. What’s important is to have great ideas and we evaluate your ideas. If we think your ideas can be scalable, your ideas can succeed, you’re going to address some of the issues that we face as humanity, your community issues… then we support those entrepreneurs.”
The foundation also plays a vital role in encouraging women to pursue a career in business. Elumelu explains to Giokos how work has specifically been done to target women: “In communities, we still find that it’s the men that are empowered. It’s the men that are funded.
It’s the men that are trained to go into these businesses to succeed. So, this why the foundation had to do more work to reach out to women. It hasn’t just happened overnight… There’s been a lot of what’s been done on the part of the foundation. We’ve targeted women to encourage women to believe in themselves, to step out. To come out and know that the economy needs them, the society needs them because if we have the women, then we have a better chance of developing the economy.”
When asked about the future of the foundation, Elumelu tells the programme how there is still much to do: “In a twinkle of an eye, the ten years will be gone. So now we’re beginning to look at What’s next? What else can we do? This is the main focus of the foundation now. Some are beginning to think of other programmes we can go into so that when this happens to pass by, the foundation still has another major programme. So, watch this space.”