Entrepreneurship is on the rise in Africa, and has the potential to drive the continent’s development to the next level. There are abundant opportunities for entrepreneurs and start-up businesses, but there are also many challenges. One of these is financing. Mentorship is also lacking for hundreds of entrepreneurs looking to grow and scale their businesses across Africa.
In December 2014, the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme (TEEP) was launched as a US$100 million initiative aimed at identifying and supporting 10,000 African entrepreneurs over the next 10 years. The programme offers training, funding, as well as mentorship to selected entrepreneurs.
Five business journalists travelled to Ota, Nigeria, at the invitation of the African Media Initiative (AMI) and the Tony Elumelu Foundation to meet 1,000 entrepreneurs who had converged for the first TEEP boot camp held at the Covenant University. The TEEP Class of 2015 had been selected from 51 African countries and territories, representing all of Africa’s geopolitical regions — North, East, Southern, Central and West Africa – and major language blocs – Anglophone, Francophone, Lusophone, and Arabic Africa. The journalists interacted with the entrepreneurs, who represent a diversity of sectors that range from agriculture to education, energy, fashion and ICT, emphasising Africa’s potential in various industries.
The media’s portrayal of entrepreneurship has a strong influence on people’s desire to become entrepreneurs, as well as on the performance of entrepreneurial and start-up ventures on the continent. The media, therefore, has an important role to play in shaping the public’s perception of the entrepreneurship process as well as in supporting start-up businesses through relevant programming and insightful coverage of the topic.
Journalists had a chance to interact with the entrepreneurs, who will each receive US$5,000 to grow or establish their start-up ideas. As a result, various articles were published in print and online media that delved into entrepreneurship, and highlighting some of the projects that entrepreneurs interviewed at the camp were engaging in. The journalists expressed their excitement at the opportunity to carry on the conversation on entrepreneurship beyond the boot camp, by following the entrepreneurs’ journey as they strive to grow their businesses using the seed capital awarded by TEEP.