A gathering of prominent global leaders including Nigeria’s President Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu; Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu; representatives from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and numerous leaders from the public and private sectors came together to commend the exceptional contributions of Tony Elumelu, Founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF), to youth development and entrepreneurship in Africa.
These distinguished leaders expressed their admiration for Tony Elumelu, who also serves as Chairman of United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc – recognising his unwavering commitment to youth empowerment, advocacy for entrepreneurship and dedication to growth of Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) across the continent.
These accolades were bestowed upon Tony Elumelu during the TEF-UNDP Breakfast Roundtable meeting, held on the sidelines of the ongoing 78th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York.
This gathering also served as the platform for launching the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) Impact Report, titled ‘The Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme: A Decade of Impact’.
President Bola Tinubu – represented by the Honourable Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Doris Uzoka-Anite – urged other capable Africans to follow in the footsteps of Tony Elumelu by investing in youth empowerment. She stressed the importance of ensuring the continent becomes self-reliant and no longer depends on foreign donors; highlighting Tony Elumelu’s role in driving investments, supporting SMEs and promoting youth entrepreneurship and start-ups.
Sanwo-Olu, in agreement with the minister, recognised Tony Elumelu’s efforts in empowering and building the youth. He noted that these efforts align perfectly with Lagos state’s initiatives for economic empowerment and poverty reduction.
Ahunna Eziakonwa, UNDP’s Assistant Secretary-General and Director-Regional Bureau for Africa, expressed her immense inspiration from Tony Elumelu’s vision for African youth. She emphasised the shared passion between UNDP and Tony Elumelu in promoting human development and providing opportunities for individuals to shape their destinies.
Eziakonwa explained the reason behind UNDP’s continued partnership with TEF, highlighting the potential impact of having ten individuals like Tony Elumelu each investing US$100million in young people over the next decade. She stressed the tremendous success achieved on the continent with limited investment, and envisioned the continent’s unstoppable potential if such efforts were multiplied.
She assured participants of UNDP’s continued excitement about partnering with TEF and the intention to elevate this partnership to new heights, emphasising their commitment to this cause.
The meeting provided a platform for global leaders to engage in discussions on critical global issues. Among participants were the Representative of Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame; the Chief Executive Officer-Generation Unlimited; UNICEF’s Kevin Frey and many others. They all concurred that Tony Elumelu’s achievements and passion for youth empowerment deserve unequivocal recognition.
In his presentation, Tony Elumelu commended all partners including UNICEF, UNDP and UBA, acknowledging UBA’s significant support. He reminded the audience of TEF seed capital funding’s inception, emphasising its roots in his vision of effecting change in Africa using African solutions.
Tony Elumelu articulated the collective goal: “To see young entrepreneurs in Africa build sustainable businesses for themselves and generate viable green jobs, so our young ones are not left behind in the inevitable green economy that the world will transition to”.
He passionately called for increased collaboration to prioritise young Africans, foster economic activities and alleviate poverty. He emphasised the importance of the beacon lit by TEF, and the need for it to shine even brighter with the support and collaboration of everyone. He stressed the urgency of providing economic support to young Africans, addressing the impact of climate change, and ending the migration and hardships faced by the continent’s youth.