The Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Forum 2019 announced last week that 3000 startups from across 54 African countries will receive $5000 (Sh500,000) in seed capital, mentorship and training.
About 113 beneficiaries from Kenya will benefit from the programme this year, up from 74 last year.
During the two day event, more than 60 global speakers and 5000 participants from public and private sectors including three head of states gathered to discuss youth empowerment and job creation the event held in Abuja, Nigeria.
The foundation received about 216,000 applications this year. Around 10,170 applications made it to the evaluation stage from which 3,050 winners were selected.
Majority of the applications came from Nigeria (112,455), Kenya (5,247) and Uganda (3,993).
Most of the applications came from the Sub-Saharan region. Only 27 startups from Northern Africa were selected for the funding.
Startups in the agriculture sector benefited the most with 26.4 percent getting the funding. The fashion was second with 13.6 percent while retail that at 9.1 percent.
Healthcare, identified at the forum as pivotal to the continent’s growth was represented by only 3.8 percent.
Other sectors included ICT (7.6 percent), manufacturing (6.2 percent), media and entertainment (4.9 percent), professional service (4.1 percent) and hospitality (2.6 percent).
The 2019 forum, Empowering African Entrepreneurs, addressed issues facing young startups on the continent and what needs to be done by public and private sectors players to avert an impending crisis.
Presidents Paul Kagame of Rwanda, Macky Sall (Senegal) and Félix Tshisekedi (Democratic Republic of Congo) voiced their support of Mr Elemelu’s initiative. Also present during this year’s event was Uganda’s Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda.
“Extremism is a product of poverty and joblessness. Poverty anywhere is a threat to everyone everywhere,” said Tony Elemelu, founder of the foundation and United bank of Africa chairman.
During the event, the UBA Marketplace which will be a platform for the continent’s budding entrepreneurs to market their products and services was also unveiled. The UBA backed platform had entrepreneurs from 20 countries showcase their ideas, including two Kenyans, during the opening.
About 12 million young people join the market every year but only 3 million manage to secure one, the President of African Development Bank Akinwumi Adesina said during one of the plenary sessions.
He urged the private sector to put their capital at risk if the continent is to realise a significant growth.
“African governments should shift from youth empowerment to youth investment. Lenders should start seeing young people as an asset and not a liability,” Mr Adesina said.
At the forum, African countries were urged to improve their business environments and put in place legislations that support the private sector besides investing in healthcare which is critical to the continent’s growth.
“If our leaders understand the reason and rationale for our youths to succeed, they will do everything they can to support them,” Mr Elemelu urged African leaders.
Giving a keynote speech at the forum, Vice President of Nigeria Yemi Osinbajo commended Mr Elemelu for the effort he was making in uplifting young entrepreneurs who struggle to realise their dreams.
“By birthing this particular intervention, Tony Elumelu has compelled us to focus on what really matters, our youth and their dreams. The message to Africa’s emerging business giants is a clear one: How and what can you contribute, like Tony Elumelu,” he said.
The CEO of the foundation Ifeyinwa Ogochukwu said that this year about 42 percent of the beneficiaries were women.
She also committed to supporting the winners secure second stage financing from investors around the globe who are scouting for good ideas.