January 25, 2021
By Alhaji Haruna Sani
The United Bank for Africa (UBA) has on Friday, January 22nd launched the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) at New Brookfield Hotel in Freetown.
Speaking at the program, Managing Director (MD) / Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of UBA Sierra Leone, Usman Isiaka, disclosed that the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF), which last year celebrated its ten years of impact, empowering a new generation of African entrepreneurship programme with 9038 beneficiaries across the 54 countries of the continent, has less than twenty (20) beneficiaries from Sierra Leone.
“This is the reason why we are moved to start this TEF awareness creation initiative in the country,” he said.
Isiaka states that the TEF is a privately owned foundation established by the group chairman of UBA,Tony Elumelu, as part of his drive to empowering the African youth.
Speaking about the foundation, Isiaka said that the TEF which was established in 2010, has become the leading champion of entrepreneurship in Africa through its $100 million funds for the identification, training, mentoring and provision of $ 5,000.00 seed capital to 1000 young African entrepreneurs annually over a ten years period that started from 2015.
The objective of TEF, he said, is to empower women and men across the continent, catalyzing economic growth, driving poverty, eradicating and ensuring job creation.
He added that the TEF entrepreneurship for this year opens on January 1, 2021, to the 31st March 2021. He disclosed that the application portal for the submission of business proposals for the grant is available on TEFConnect Digital Platform (www.tefconnect.com).
‘This year’s intervention priorities is the economic recovery of small and medium scale enterprises (SMEs) and young African entrepreneurs, following the COVID-19 disruption to economic activities,” he added.
He also states that over the years, Sierra Leone has had a little over 100 applications, with just a handful of those applications making it through to the final stage.
This year, he said, the bank has decided to collaborate with the Ministry of Youth Affairs, the TEF Alumni and the media to drive a higher participation level from Sierra Leone and have more Sierra Leonean youths benefit from this enormous opportunity.
He said as an integral part of its Cooperate Social Responsibility, UBA Sierra Leone remains committed to working with the Ministry of Youth Affairs, TEF Alumni and the media in promoting the call year-on year as they put together arrays of activities that will drive public awareness for this year’s call, to ensure that increased number of young enterprising Sierra Leoneans apply going forward.
Speaking on behalf of the TEF Alumni, Phebian R. Swill, Hub Lead for the Alumni, noted the importance of the media in bringing awareness about the TEF in Sierra Leone.
“With the TEF programme, we got two month online training and during that time we learnt a lot; including how to pitch your business, about partnership, about how to develop a business model including their advantages and disadvantages, how to pitch your audience and more importantly you get a wider network,” she stated.
Minister of Youth Affairs, Mohamed Orman Bangura, expressed joy and welcome the TEF initiative with great alacrity.
He highlighted some of the success stories of his ministry including the National Youth Service which he implemented immediately he assumed office sometimes in 2018.
Acting head of Public Sector, UBA Victoria Banya, informed the minister about the amazing package UBA Sierra Leone has for the youth.
She disclosed that the UBA has opened a special account called the NYSC Account which caters for members of the National Youth Service (NYS) People.
The account, she said, has no monthly charges, no SMS charges, has a free debit card, a chance to win pocket money, a free online business workshop and a lot more bonus.