How Tony Elumelu is Changing Lives Through TEF Grants

how tony elumelu is changing lives through TEF

The Tony Elumelu Foundation Program for Entrepreneurship is a massive philanthropic effort kick-started in 2010 by Nigeria’s foremost banker, Tony Onyemaechi Elumelu. Its major objective is to train the next generation of Africa’s business leaders by offering mentorship, funding, and entrepreneurial training, thereby empowering young people in the continent with much-needed seed capital and expertise needed to run a 21st Century business. 

According to the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) website, the program, now its 11th year and 7th edition, “has empowered over 9,000 young African entrepreneurs from 54 African countries with world-class business training, mentorship, non-refundable seed capital of $5,000 and global networking and market opportunities.”

What makes the Tony Elumelu Foundation Grant remarkable is that the seed capital of $5,000 is completely free, none-refundable, requires no collateral, and no strings attached. The only requirement is a viable business idea put together in the form of a proposal.

Why You Should Consider Applying for the Tony Elumelu Foundation Grant

There are several reasons why you should consider applying for the Tony Elumelu Foundation Grant:

  1. It grants you access to free capital with which to execute your ideas. In addition, there is no need for any collateral.
  2. The grant exposes you to entrepreneurs of like minds with whom you can network and share ideas.
  3. The TEF Grant gives you access to free business mentorship with established entrepreneurs across the globe. 

The Tony Elumelu Foundation Grant program couldn’t have come at a better time when access to loan and credit facilities has deteriorated. Nigeria’s interest rate currently stands at 11.5%. The high interest rate and the bottle-necks associated with applying and accessing loans from banks make the Tony Elumelu Foundation Grant an important contributor to Africa’s Small and Medium Scale Enterprises sector. The Tony Elumelu Foundation Grant is obviously, a program for you to consider applying for.

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Who is the Founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation Grant?

The founder of Tony Elumelu Foundation Grant is Nigeria’s crusading entrepreneur, Tony Elumelu, popularly called TOE. He is a billionaire serial entrepreneur who has launched several ventures and is succeeding in them. Born in 1963 in Jos, Plateau state, Tony Elumelu started his banking career at Union Bank. He did his one-year NYSC service after he bagged a degree in Economics from the Ambrose Ali University, Ekpoma, Delta state, where he also hails from. The 58-year-old is the Chairman of the United Bank for Africa, UBA, Transcorp, Afam Power Plant, Heirs Holdings, and TNOG Oil and Gas. Recently, he floated an insurance company called Heirs Insurance and Heirs Life Insurance. When it comes to starting and nurturing businesses, Tony Elumelu is an egghead across the globe.

When Tony Elumelu retired from UBA in 2010, many thought he would become a private citizen. And enjoy the astonishing wealth he acquired over the decades through his decades of hard work in the banking industry. But Tony Elumelu had other things in his mind. He only retired from UBA as CEO. He did not retire from entrepreneurship or from philanthropy. So he set up the Tony Elumelu Foundation Grant that same year. In 2015 when the grant clocked five, Tony Elumelu restated the program’s vision, which, according to him, was to “drive Africa’s economic and social transformation through entrepreneurship and competitiveness. In doing that, we also wished to change the narrative on African development. We wanted to reframe the plan so that economic development would no longer be centered on foreign aid but driven sustainably by Africans doing business on the continent.”

Who is eligible for the Tony Elumelu Foundation Grant?

Application for the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Grant is usually open to young people of African descent. To qualify, you must submit a business proposal. In addition, you state in clear terms what business or sector you want to go into. And how you intend to succeed and use the business to impact your community. In its selection process, the Tony Elumelu Foundation gives priority to innovative ideas with a demonstrable capacity to offer solutions to Africa’s or global challenges. And disruptive ideas that can offer employment opportunities and replicate success stories.

Thousands of budding entrepreneurs apply for the Tony Elumelu Grant yearly. However, not everyone who applies will make the selection list. This is because of the high number of applicants for the program. However, at the end of the selection process. They will announce the successful applicants and grant them invitations to Lagos to undergo orientation, business mentorship, and induction.

How the Tony Elumelu Foundation Grant has helped thousands of young Africans

There is no doubt that the Tony Elumelu Foundation Grant is a game-changer. It has marked a watershed in the quest to develop the African business landscape through a home-grown aide. Through it, Tony Elumelu has changed the narrative in terms of what philanthropy use to be. The Tony Elumelu Grant is not giving fish to young people. Instead, it teaches them how to catch boatloads of fish through empowerment, mentorship, and capacity building. The Tony Elumelu Foundation has since expanded its scope to what it calls “Africapitalism”. This calls for African business leaders to invest in Africa and give back a portion of their wealth to create social wealth in the continent. Call it wealth transfer.

Essentially, what the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Grant does is give young Africans access to capital to execute viable business ideas. One important thing emphasized by the grant each year is that the grant recipients and their businesses must create employment opportunities in their chosen sectors.

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The Impact of the Tony Elumelu Foundation Grant

The impact of the Tony Elumelu Foundation Grant is everywhere for all to see. It has built thousands of businesses and put food on thousands of tables. Many people whose business ideas would have died a natural death if TEF Grant didn’t show up. One of them is NdubuisiEze, one of the beneficiaries. According to Ndubuisi: “I applied with just an idea of using drones to support crop dusting and also gather data on farms. And that’s where the magic started,” Eze said. His drone company now also runs in Singerpole after it was spotted by a Singaporean Minister who liked his business idea.

“Without the Elumelu Foundation Program, there was no way, not a chance for this idea that I had at that time to take off. The program not only helped the business plan, but also put us through on how to evaluate customer acquisitions. The business canvass helps you to break down where you are going to get your resources,” Ndubuisi said in 2019.


The Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Program is a great opportunity for young Africans seeking to execute their ideas. If you are a business owner or have dreams of owning one, the TEG Grant is certainly for you. Remember, it is pan-African, and the seed fund is free (non-refundable). Because it is Tony Elumelu’s way of giving back to help build the African economy. So dust up your papers and uncap your pen. Start putting your ideas together so you can submit them when next it opens for application. Who knows, you might be on your way to becoming Africa’s next business sensation.

About Author

Israel Usulor
Israel Usulor is a talented writer, a poet and a trained journalist who is passionate about journalism and literature and how both can be used to transform lives across continents. He is a committed Nigerian youth who would like to see a better Nigeria in his lifetime. In his spare time, Israel engages in comedy in comedy skits production.

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