Like Indonesia, Africa Aims to Help Entrepreneurs Succeed

Across the developing world, new initiatives are working to encourage and sustain entrepreneurism, to the benefit of both individual entrepreneurs and entire societies. In Indonesia, self-made businessman and philanthropist Sukanto Tanoto has made his Tanoto Foundation a leader in supporting the personal and professional growth of today’s emerging generation of entrepreneurs. Through foundation initiatives such as the Tanoto Entrepreneurship Series, new business owners and innovators learn directly from mentors already successful in their fields. Meanwhile, in Africa, the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme has embarked on similar work.

In Indonesia, Sukanto Tanoto has regularly ranked among his country’s richest men. In 2014, the Nigerian-born Elumelu achieved a place on Forbes magazine’s list of the wealthiest men in Africa, thanks to his success in a variety of banking and real estate ventures. The Elumelu Foundation’s new entrepreneurship effort is set to provide $100 million to train, fund, and provide mentoring services for a diverse group of entrepreneurs across the African continent. This represents Africa’s first and largest-to-date philanthropic contribution of its kind.

Elumelu established his foundation in 2010. Like Sukanto Tanoto in Indonesia, Elumelu aims to assist in solving some of Africa’s persistent problems—poverty, lack of adequate infrastructure, lack of social and economic opportunity—by giving a head start to the individuals he sees as most equipped to make practical, positive change happen: entrepreneurs.

Over the next decade, the Elumelu Foundation will support a projected 10,000 fledgling businesses. The foundation estimates that doing so could create about 1 million new jobs within some of the world’s most struggling national economies, and produce approximately $10 billion in revenue each year.

The new Elumelu initiative is based on three principles. These involve the traditional inclusiveness of Afri-capitalism, which holds that a robust private sector stands the best chance of boosting continent-wide growth. Secondly, the program espouses the goal of “institutionalizing luck” by offering the support needed to buoy up new businesses during their crucial early years. Finally, in its dedication to empower a new wave of African innovators and creators, Elumelu’s initiative seeks to create a generation of leaders who can give back to their national economies and broader communities.



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