The 5th edition of Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) Entrepreneurship Forum was held on 26-27 July in Abuja, Nigeria. The two-day event, themed ‘Empowering African Entrepreneurs,’ brought together more than 5,000 participants and 60 speakers from 3 continents. The event is an integral part of the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship program cycle. In the run up to the event, selected entrepreneurs received a chance to have robust business training and to develop bankable business plans coached by mentors.
The 2019 Forum itself facilitated interactive masterclasses, plenary sessions and debates geared towards generating ideas and defining concrete steps Africa must take to empower its youth and accelerate the continent’s development. At the center of the programme was the Presidential Debates whose panel featured speakers such as Presidents of Rwanda, Senegal, Democratic Republic of Congo, and presidential representatives from Uganda and Nigeria.
Joining the panel, AfDB’s president Akinwumi Adesina called upon African leaders to invest in their youth to unlock economic prosperity of the continent, rather than implementing youth empowerment with little or no result:
“We must begin to put our capital at risk for the young people of Africa. The current market system doesn’t provide financing to the African youth, projected to be over 840 million by 2050. The African continent will brim with the youngest population on earth by then“, Adesina said and added:
“We should begin to set up youth entrepreneurship and investments banks – banks where if you walk in, they see assets and not liability.”