The Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) and Google on Wednesday announced an inaugural Google.org fellowship to provide one million additional Africans with access to TEFConnect.
Jen Carter, global head of technology at Google.org, said at the Foundation’s headquarters in Lagos that it was part of the Foundation’s mission to empower young African entrepreneurs from all 54 African countries.
Carter said that the partnership was the first Google.org Fellowship in Africa and would offer enormous opportunities for Africa’s digital community.
She maintained that nine full-time Google employees, including software engineers, UI/UX researchers, and policy experts, would work with the Foundation to design and build an upgraded version of the TEFConnect platform.
“TEFConnect is already home to over one million African entrepreneurs and offers tailored tools, market partnerships, and access to coaches and investors to small businesses.
“This fellowship builds on an initial three million dollars grant by Google.org to support the 2021 TEF Entrepreneurship Programme by empowering an additional 500 African women to start or scale their businesses.
“The TEF Entrepreneurship Programme is a U.S. 100m dollar initiative that has supported over 15,000 African entrepreneurs and is the largest entrepreneurship programme in Africa,’’ she said.
According to her, Google is delighted to start the first Google.org Fellowship in Africa with the Foundation that does so much to empower African entrepreneurs.
Carter said that Google was thrilled to be able to lend the expertise of Googlers to expand the reach of the TEFConnect platform to an additional one million entrepreneurs.
She said that Google’s commitment in Africa had progressed from sponsoring projects to collaborative partnerships with established African organisations like the Tony Elumelu Foundation, dedicated to developing young African talent.
According to her, as Africa’s digital economy grows, African entrepreneurs are in a prime position to establish a powerful digital footprint and this fellowship is one step closer to transforming the landscape.
The co-Founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, Dr. Awele Elumelu, said that the foundation was pleased to continue to share unique ability and platform to identify, train, mentor and fund young entrepreneurs across Africa.
She said TEF intended to train, mentor and fund young entrepreneurs across Africa with like-minded institutions like Google.org who shared in its commitment to empower young African entrepreneurs.
According to her, 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 catalysts for the social and economic development of the African continent.”
TEF beneficiary, Lungile Marhungane, CEO, Jesu Puro Water, said before the TEF Entrepreneurship Programme, the water company suffered financial setbacks.
Marhungane said that since TEF support, “I have purchased new machines and impacted more communities to ease the water purification process, deliver clean water to villages that lack access to clean water at an affordable price.
“The Tony Elumelu Foundation Grant is a dream come true for me and a great opportunity. More people should partake; this is the most innovative platform in Africa,’’ he said.
The Tony Elumelu Foundation is the leading philanthropy empowering a new generation of African entrepreneurs, catalysing economic growth, driving poverty eradication and job creation across African countries.
TEF has disbursed over 85 million dollars in seed capital to date to support small businesses’ growth across Africa.