The Tony Elumelu Foundation

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The Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) is an African non-profit organization founded in 2010 by Tony O. Elumelu and headquartered in Lagos, Nigeria, based on his belief that, with the right support, entrepreneurs can be empowered to contribute meaningfully to Africa's prosperity and social development.[1] The Foundation is intent on charting a new course for African philanthropy and does not operate merely as a grant-awarding organisation. It is a pioneer member of the Global Impact Investment Rating System (GIIRS).


The Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) was founded in 2010 by Nigerian businessman Tony O. Elumelu, and positioned as a 21st-century catalytic philanthropy. As a primary driver of Africapitalism, the Foundation is committed to the economic transformation of Africa by enhancing the competitiveness and growth of the African private sector, through a push for entrepreneurship.


The Foundation aims to promote excellence in business leadership and entrepreneurship across Africa.[2] One of its driving aspirations is the improvement of the competitiveness of African economies.

Programme priorities[edit]

TEF's activities revolve around:

  • Developing the next generation of business leaders for Africa
  • Building the networks and developing the framework for enhancing the competitiveness of African economies
  • Identifying impact investing opportunities.
  • Research work aimed at developing an enabling environment for African entrepreneurs

The Foundation has set itself apart from grant-making by operationalizing various integrated programmes to support entrepreneurship in Africa and enhancing the competitiveness of the African private sector. TEF has successfully implemented programmes to achieve this, including:

  • Promoting entrepreneurship e.g. Elumelu Professionals’ Programme (EPP), Nigeria 50, Impact investments, grant to CCHub, and recently its flagship – the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme;
  • Enhancing competitiveness e.g. African Exchange (AFEX), National Competitiveness Council of Nigeria (NCCN), Blair-Elumelu Fellows Programme;
  • Selective grant making to other bodies pursuing aligned and strategic causes e.g. Tony Blair African Governance Initiative, Kofi Annan Foundation, John Kuffour Foundation, One Org, Rothschild Foundation;
  • Policy development, research and advocacy through the Africapitalism Institute
  • Leadership development and recognition of excellence e.g. The Tony & Awele Elumelu Prize (TAEP), The Fellows programme
  • Reports on the African entrepreneurial ecosystem, based on data collected from its 20,000+ pan-African network, resulting in two comprehensive reports, "Unleashing Africa's Entrepreneurs" and "Unleashing Africa's Agricultural Entrepreneurs"


  • The Foundation's main philosophy is based on the founder's legacy to empower a generation of successful for-profit entrepreneurs who enable economic development across Africa.
  • The guiding principles are derived from an inclusive economic philosophy of Africapitalism, which promotes that long-term, sustained and vibrant African-led private-sector investment in key sectors of the continent's economy will drive economic and social development
  • Through its programme and activities, TEF seeks to empower African entrepreneurs, to "institutionalise luck" and create an environment where entrepreneurship can flourish in a sustained manner


The Foundation is led by Parminder Vir, a global media investment expert and consultant with more than 25 years of experience as a film and TV producer. Its advisory board features several public and private sector figures including Harvard Business School’s Professor Michael E. Porter as its founding patron. Other board members are economist and former Pakistan prime minister, Shaukat Aziz; founder and executive chairman at Dalberg Global Development Advisors, Henrik Skovby; former Executive Vice President, Open Society Institute, Stewart Paperin; former managing director at Goldman Sachs and chief executive officer of, Teresa Clarke; chief executive officer of Development Partners International, Runa Alam; Dr Luisa Dias Diogo, who served as prime minister of Mozambique from 2004 to 2010, and chief executive officer of Bidco Group, Vimal Shah.

December 2018, The Foundation announces the appointment of Ifeyinwa Ugochukwu as Chief Executive Officer. Ifeyinwa Ugochukwu served as Director of Partnerships of the Tony Elumelu Foundation since November 2017 and succeeds Parminder Vir.


  • The Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme: A decade-long $100m initiative designed to give training, mentorship and seed capital to 10,000 entrepreneurs with start-up business ideas they want to execute in Africa.
  • The Mtanga Farms Investment: The Foundation's inaugural impact investment was in Mtanga Farms Limited, a mixed arable farming business operating in the Southern Tanzanian Highlands.[3]
  • The Elumelu Legacy Prize: An award established by Tony O. and Dr. Awele Elumelu to recognize homegrown academic excellence in subject areas representing their career paths and fields of academic study. The awards are given to the overall best graduating students and best performing students in Economics, Business Administration, and Medicine within top tertiary institutions across Nigeria's six geopolitical zones. It is also given to recipients who have excelled in training programmes from the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria. The annual Prize was designed to promote academic excellence and inspire the next generation of Nigerian leaders.
  • The Elumelu Professionals Programme (EPP) recruits experienced professionals graduating from prestigious Masters in Business Administration and Masters in Public Administration (or Public Policy) programmes to work in SME companies and public sector agencies. The recruits work on specific strategic projects over the course of a 10-week placement. Since 2011, the Foundation has placed over 85 professionals in more than 40 companies across seven countries in Africa.
  • The Blair Elumelu Fellowship Programme (BEFP) is a partnership between former British Prime Minister Tony Blair's Africa Governance Initiative and TEF. It is scheduled to run for three years. Tony Blair's office has hailed it as "bringing together the best of innovative European government delivery models with the best of African private sector acumen and execution.[4] "
  • The Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to increasing the effectiveness of impact investing. TEF is dedicated to impact investing and is a member of the GIIN Investor Council.[5]
  • The Foundation's focus on research will see it deliver white papers on different topics in 2012. Their founder, Tony O. Elumelu, contributed to the Nigerian Leadership Initiative's white paper in 2011.[6] The GIIN published a case study in November 2011 on the Foundation's investment in Mtanga Farms[7]
  • The Africapitalism Institute also released a comprehensive report on the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Africa, analysing challenges facing African entrepreneurs and their proposed solutions.[8][9][10][11] Titled Unleashing Africa’s Entrepreneurs: Improving the Enabling Environment for Start-ups, it was first released to the public at a world-press conference on the sidelines of the 6th Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Nairobi, Kenya on 25 July 2015. The data used was based on original research leveraging the Foundation's pan-African network of over 20,000 early stage African businesses.

A leading light in African philanthropy,[12] TEF has relationships with several other organisations around the world.[13][14]

Global Entrepreneurship Summit, Kenya, 2015[edit]

During the Global Entrepreneurship Summit that was opened by President Barack Obama, three Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurs were part of the official GES programme and gave "Ignite talks" on their entrepreneurial journey to the global audience including President Obama and President Kenyatta of Kenya.[15][16] Shadi Sabeh, CEO Brilliant Footsteps Academy, Nigeria; Tonee Ndungu, Founder, Kytabu, Kenya; and Jean Patrick Ehouman, Co-Founder and President, Akendewa in Côte d'Ivoire were the speakers representing their companies and are beneficiaries of the Tony Elumelu Foundation.[17]

World Economic Forum on Africa, Kigali, 2016[edit]

"Unleashing Africa's Agricultural Entrepreneurs", the Foundation's report on the potentials of agribusinesses in transforming the continent, was launched on the sidelines of the 26th World Economic Forum on Africa in Kigali, Rwanda, 11–13 May 2016. Elumelu was also one of the co-chairs of the forum.

Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurs: Transforming Africa[edit]

In June 2016, Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurs: Transforming Africa, a 30-minute documentary film chronicling the story of the Foundation's Entrepreneurship Programme. The documentary has since premiered in different cities across the world from Paris[18] to St. Gallen, Kigali, Lagos and London.


  1. ^ Kantai, Parselelo (22 November 2011). "Tycoons put professional veneer on business of giving". Retrieved 14 February 2012.
  2. ^ "Tony Elumelu Foundation to promote excellence in business leadership". Vanguard. 8 November 2010. Retrieved 14 February 2012.
  3. ^ Balondemu, Claire (19 April 2011). "Uganda: Development Agencies in Investment Deal With Tanzanian Farms". All Africa. Retrieved 14 February 2012.
  4. ^ "Blair Elumelu Fellowship Programme: Supporting African Governments to Advance Economic Development". The Office of Tony Blair. Retrieved 14 February 2012.
  5. ^ "The Tony Elumelu Foundation". Global Impact Investing Network. Retrieved 14 February 2012.
  6. ^
  7. ^ "Improving Livelihoods, Removing Barriers: Investing for Impact in Mtanga Farms", GIIN, 28 November 2011.
  8. ^ Dan Keeler, "Africa’s Entrepreneurs Struggle With Scarce Finance and Poor Infrastructure", The Wall Street Journal, 24 July 2015.
  9. ^ Obinna Chima, "Report Reveals Access to Capital, Others As Challenges Facing Entrepreneurs", This Day Live, via AllAfrica, 29 July 2015.
  10. ^ "Elumelu Foundation Releases Report On Africa’s Business Climate", PM News, 28 July 2015.
  11. ^ "African entrepreneurs decry exclusion from low-interest loans", kaykayjabari's Blog, 29 July 2015.
  12. ^ Kantai, Parselelo (22 November 2011). "Tycoons put professional veneer on business of giving". Financial Times. Retrieved 14 February 2012.
  13. ^ "Africans investing in Africa: the 'Oppenheimer Elumelu' series", TradeMark Southern Africa, 3 April 2013.
  14. ^ "Africans Investing in Africa Book Launched at World Economic Forum", InvestAdvocate, 9 June 2015.
  15. ^ Witney Schneidman, "Obama in Kenya: A Report from the Field and a Recap of the Global Entrepreneurship Summit", Cov Africa, 30 July 2015.
  16. ^ Witney Schneidman, "Obama in Kenya: A report from the field and a recap of the Global Entrepreneurship Summit", Brookings, 29 July 2015.
  17. ^ Paul Wafula, "50 Universities to benefit from Sh6 billion IBM funding", Standard Digital (Kenya), 27 July 2015.
  18. ^ "Nollywood gets Paris’ love", The Nation, 7 June 2016.

External links[edit]