At an event organized by the Tony Elumelu Foundation and the Co-Creation Hub, African business man and philanthropist Tony Elumelu announced his intention to increase to 50, the number of annual grants his foundation will make to start-up businesses that solve African challenges while providing sustainable returns.
The announcement was made in front of Omobola Johnson, Minister of Communication Technology and a gathering of young technology entrepreneurs who were there to hear the inspiring stories of just three of the tech entrepreneurs who had already received their grants.
One of them, Olusegun Onigbinde, Head Partner at BudgIT, a data processing company, said the grant helped him improve the company’s data strategy and mobile presence. Adebayo Adebayo of Efiko – which provides students with easy-to-use, self-assessment tools through mobile technology, said his grant assisted with the launch of a national pilot scheme in secondary schools which impacted over 12,500 students in under a year.
For Traclist, which provides SME merchants with access to an e-commerce platform, the foundation’s grant meant they could complete their software prototype and launch a pilot programme back in July 2012. According to its founder, Emotu Balogun, “Because of the grant, we were able to invest and grow our revenues from N80,000 to an average of N1,600,000 monthly, and we see more room for growth.” The three joined Naijateenz.com, JobsinNigeria.com, VarsoftMediaLibrary.com and Tiketmobile.com who had already received grants.
After the presentations, Tony Elumelu C.O.N, Chairman of the pan African proprietary investment company Heirs Holdings and founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation applauded the entrepreneurs’ enthusiasm and commitment and outlined why the foundation was involved. He said; “The early stage of a business is perhaps the most challenging period in the life cycle of an entrepreneur; yet it is also the most crucial in determining its sustainability and this is why we are providing support at this level. We are awarding early stage grants – not investment funding – designed to purely to provide or supplement seed money that one would typically raise from ‘friends or family’.
He continued; “We are targeting those who have the ideas but not the means to build a business. We want to move them to a stage where investors can seriously consider them. With the level of talent I see here, there is no reason why the next Bill Gates or Steve Jobs cannot come out of Africa.”