The United States government through its Consulate General in Lagos would support the training of a cohort of 20 young entrepreneurs from southern Nigeria with a public diplomacy grant of $105,000.
The US Consul General, Claire Pierangelo, who disclosed this in Lagos, yesterday said the programme would be done in partnership with the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF), noting that it “defines our mutual commitment to promoting entrepreneurship as the key driver of job growth, economic prosperity and political stability in Nigeria.”
Under the partnership, 20 U.S. Consulate/TEF Fellows were selected to receive additional entrepreneurship training through a day-long programme at the US Consulate General to utilise some of the resources of the Young African Leaders Initiative, including alumni of the Mandela Washington Fellowship.
“The 20 Fellows were selected from the Consular District with a priority being placed on five key sectors: energy, technology, transportation, agriculture, and health.
“This programme is intended to give these fellows insight to innovative U.S. business models that will help them manage their businesses, market their products or services, seek capital, and develop partnerships.
“That is why the U.S. Department of State supports entrepreneurs all over the world by working with host nation governments and non-government organisations such as the Tony Elumelu Foundation.
“Through worldwide and regional programmes such as the Global Entrepreneurship Summit, the Academy for Women Entrepreneurs, the Africa Women Entrepreneurship Programme, the Fortune 500 U.S. Department of State Global Women’s Mentoring Partnership programme, TechWomen, Global Innovation through Science and Technology initiative, International Visitors Leadership Programme and the locally-focused Conference for Emerging Entrepreneurs, the U.S. government has demonstrated a sincere commitment to Nigeria’s economic development, through the power of entrepreneurship.
“Our partnership with the Tony Elumelu Foundation promotes our ongoing efforts to advance entrepreneurship in Nigeria and is yet another example of our long-standing commitment to supporting Nigeria as it strives to diversify its economy,” Pierangelo said.
Also speaking, TEF Chief Executive Officer, Ms. Ifeyinwa Ugochukwu, said the purpose of the partnership was to leverage on the novel philanthropy model pioneered by her foundation, focusing on empowering African entrepreneurs.
She added that through its flagship Entrepreneur Programme, the foundation has committed over $100 million to identify, train, mentor and fund over 10,000 African Entrepreneurs across 54 countries in the continent in the last 10 years.
According to her, “We aim to create jobs and revenue across Africa, thereby breaking the cycle of poverty on the continent. Our flagship, the pan-African programme has thus far successfully produced 7,531 young entrepreneurs, from across all 54 countries. In the past five years alone, we have seen an exponential increase in interest in the programme, leading us to seek strategic partners who can sponsor additional youth, beyond TEF’s commitment of 1,000 entrepreneurs.”
Ugochukwu lamented that the continent currently has close to 200 million youths either unemployed or inactive, adding that forecast indicates that by 2025, there would be an additional 150 million youth workforce entrants in Africa.
“To cater to this burgeoning population, entrepreneurship and job creation must be prioritised by government, private sector, development institutions and all stakeholders, and we strongly believe that this partnership achieves this,” she added.