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“Poverty anywhere is a threat to everyone everywhere”

-Tony Elumelu

August 1, 2019

By Hassan Gbassay Koroma

 L-r: Prime Minister of Uganda, Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda, President of DR Congo, Felix Tshisekedi, President of Senegal, Macky Sall,  Founder, the Tony Elumelu Foundation,  Tony Elumelu,  Vice President of Nigeria, Prof Yemi Osibanjo, Wife of the Founder, The Tony Elumelu Foundation, Dr Awele Elumelu; President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame;  Moderator and  Host Fareed Zakaria GPS, CNN Presenter, Fareed Zakaria, during the Founder’s Presidential Dialogue held at the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Forum 2019.


Founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation Tony O. Elumelu, has stated that extremism is a product of poverty and joblessness, noting that poverty anywhere is a threat to everyone everywhere.

“Extremism is a product of poverty and joblessness. Poverty anywhere is a threat to everyone everywhere, if our leaders understand the reason and rationale for our youths to succeed, they will do everything they can to support them”, he said.

He was speaking at the recently concluded 5th edition of the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) Entrepreneurship Forum held at Transcorp Hilton Hotel, in Abuja, Nigeria.

Tony Elumelu, who has been at the forefront of advocating for entrepreneurship as the catalyst for the economic transformation of Africa was addressing over 5,000 participants from 54 African countries, including representatives of the 7,521 beneficiaries of the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme.

He reiterated the role of technology as a key enabler in accelerating development, citing TEFConnect, the digital networking platform for African entrepreneurs launched by the Tony Elumelu Foundation in 2018. With over 500,000 registered users, the hub provides a platform for entrepreneurs to network and forge business partnerships regardless of their location.

However, five African Presidents and thousands of young African entrepreneurs the 26th and 27Th of July, converged at the most influential gathering in the African entrepreneurship ecosystem and charted way forward for job creation and youth empowerment.

The presidents and leaders include Paul Kagame, President, Republic of Rwanda; H.E. Macky Sall, President, Republic of Senegal; H.E. Félix Tshisekedi, President, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC); H.E. (Prof.) Yemi Osinbajo (SAN), Vice President, Federal Republic of Nigeria; and Hon (Dr.) Ruhakana Rugunda, Prime Minister, Republic of Uganda, representing the President of Uganda, H.E. Yoweri Museveni.

More than 60 global speakers from the public and private sectors across 3 continents participated in interactive masterclasses, plenary sessions and debates geared towards generating ideas and defining concrete steps Africa must take to empower its youth and accelerate the continent’s development.

Guests interacted directly with young budding entrepreneurs from across the 20 African UBA-present countries who exhibited their innovative products and solutions at the UBA Marketplace, powered by Africa’s global bank, United Bank for Africa (UBA).

Moderated by American journalist and host of CNN’s show, Fareed Zakaria GPS, the Presidential Debates, which formed the highlight of the two-day event, focused on charting the way forward towards the eradication of poverty in Africa through job creation.

The public sector leaders on the panel.

 Healthcare played a dominant role in the conversations as healthcare leaders in the public and private sectors tackled this theme on the plenary session “The Role of Healthcare in Economic Transformation”.

Speakers on the above panel include Dr. Awele Elumelu, Trustee, Tony Elumelu Foundation and Founder/CEO, Avon Medical Practice; H.E (Mrs.) Aisha Buhari, First Lady, Federal Republic of Nigeria, H.E (Mme.) Djena Kaba Condé, First Lady of Guinea; H.E. (Mme.) Keïta Aminata Maiga, First Lady, Mali; Gilles Carbonnier, Vice President, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC); Oulimata Sarr, Regional Director ai, UN Women Central and West Africa; and Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General, World Health Organisation.

Giving the keynote adress, Vice President of Nigeria, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, commented on the impact of the Tony Elumelu Foundation: “By birthing this particular intervention, Tony Elumelu, compelled them to focus on what really matters, the youth and their dreams.

He said the message to Africa’s emerging business giants is a clear one on how and what they can contribute, like Tony Elumelu, to empowering the next generation, helping them to realize their own dreams.
However, the forum ended with a tour of the UBA Marketplace, where entrepreneurs across the continent exhibited their products, as a pitching competition saw the winner walk away with a $5,000 grant from the United Bank for Africa (UBA).

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