BY: ONOME AMUGE
Pan-African philanthropic organisation, The Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) and technology giant, Google, are joining forces for an inaugural Google.org fellowship that will enable one million additional Africans to access TEFConnect, a digital networking platform for African entrepreneurs, as part of the foundation’s mission to empower young African entrepreneurs.
The collaboration is the first Google.org fellowship in Africa and includes a $3 million grant by Google.org to support the 2021 TEF entrepreneurship programme that will support an additional 500 African women to start or scale their businesses.
It is also an addition to the initial $100 million TEF initiative which has supported over 15,000 African entrepreneurs, offering enormous opportunities for Africa’s digital community by catalysing economic growth, driving poverty eradication and job creation across all 54 African countries, making it the largest entrepreneurship programme in the continent.
According to Google.org, nine full-time Google employees, including software engineers, UI/UX researchers, and policy experts, will work with TEF to design and build an upgraded version of the TEFConnect platform, which is already home to over one million African entrepreneurs, offering tailored tools, market partnerships, and access to coaches and investors to small businesses.
Speaking on the partnership, Awele Elumelu, co-founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, said TEF is pleased to share its unique ability and platform to identify, train, mentor and fund young entrepreneurs across Africa with like-minded institutions such as Google.org, who share similar commitment towards empowering young African entrepreneurs.
“It will be exciting to see the ways in which the refreshed TEFConnect platform will continue to provide a space for growth, personal development, and meaningful exchange for African entrepreneurs.
“In line with our founding philosophy of Africapitalism, we believe that entrepreneurs are the catalyst for the social and economic development of the African continent,” she said.
Jen Carter, global head of technology at Google.org, said the charitable arm of Google is thrilled to be able to lend the expertise of “Googlers” to expand the reach of the TEFConnect platform to an additional one million entrepreneurs.
According to Carter, Google’s commitment in Africa has progressed from sponsoring projects to collaborative partnerships with established African organisations like the Tony Elumelu Foundation, dedicated to developing young African talent.
She added that the fellowship is one step closer to transforming the landscape for African entrepreneurs who are in a prime position to establish a powerful digital footprint as the continent’s digital economy grows.
Commenting on the TEF entrepreneurship programme, Lungile Marhungane, a beneficiary from South Africa and chief executive officer, Jesu Puro Water, recounted how her water company suffered financial setbacks, detailing how the programme empowered her to purchase new machines, impact more communities to ease the water purification process, and deliver clean water to villages that lack access to clean water at an affordable price.
“The Tony Elumelu Foundation grant was a dream come true for me and a great opportunity. More people should partake, this is the most innovative platform in Africa,” Marhungane added.