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We are building the future African business leaders -Parminder Vir



Ms. Parminder Vir is the CEO of The Tony Elumelu Foundation(TEF), She talks to Business Africa Online on the strategic steps being taken by TEF in accelerating empowerment of young African entrepreneurs. Achievements of the foundation so far, and plans for 2017. Excerpts:



BAO: Can you give us a brief overview of The Tony Elumelu Foundation and what you do exactly? 

Parminder: The Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) is the leading philanthropy in Africa championing entrepreneurship and entrepreneurs across the continent. The Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) was founded in 2010 by Tony O. Elumelu CON, a serial investor, financier, and philanthropist. Our long-term investment in empowering African entrepreneurs is emblematic of Tony Elumelu’s philosophy of Africapitalism, which positions Africa’s private sector, and most importantly entrepreneurs, as the catalyst for the social and economic development of the continent.


BAO: Is the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) focused on African entrepreneurs alone? What is the impact?

Parminder: The Tony Elumelu Foundation launched the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme on 1stJanuary with a US$100 million, decade long commitment to identify, train, mentor, and fund 10,000 African entrepreneurs. Through this investment, our goal is to create one million jobs and $10 billion in additional revenues across the continent. TEF Entrepreneurship Programme is the largest entrepreneurship programme on the continent, made in Africa, by an African and for Africans. With the programme, we are promoting a culture of structured philanthropy that is impactful and that delivers sustainable results.

Through the programme, we are building the future African business leaders who create jobs to support themselves, their families, communities and the contribute to the economic transformation of their continent. We are also formalising the MSME, as all the selected TEF Entrepreneurs on the programme must be registered as businesses to receive the training, mentoring and funding.

The purpose of the programme is the economic transformation of the continent and we seek to do this by institutionalising luck and democratising opportunity. African entrepreneurs, regardless of nationality, gender, religion, age, or sector who has a transformative and scalable business idea can apply.

Through the Programme, foundation is unlocking the obstacles that Africa’s entrepreneurs face as they grow their startups into small to medium enterprises (SMEs), their SMEs into national growth companies, and their national growth companies into African multinational. Within a space of 2 years of operation and with 2,000 entrepreneurs and counting we are on the right track towards that, across the continent several of our entrepreneurs have begun a massive drive of employment and business scale up.

We promote the business stories of the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurs on our website: and also The TEF Documentary which chronicles the first year story of the programme launched in 2015.

BAO: What are the challenges faced by the foundation? How are you overcoming them?

Parminder: Across Africa the challenge is to create an enabling environment for entrepreneurs to thrive. Beyond our work of training, mentoring and funding, the Foundation is leveraging its unique data base for insights and trends occurring in the African entrepreneurial ecosystem. The foundation is producing research and advocacy that informs policy makers, empowers entrepreneurs, and equips corporations, institutions and individuals with incisive analysis and timely information. In July 2015, we launched Unleashing Africa’s Entrepreneurs Series focused on analysing key sectors of Africa’s economy that possess or are attracting a high level of entrepreneurial activity and innovation. To date we have produced two ground-breaking reports as part of this series: Unleashing Africa’s Entrepreneurs: Creating an Enabling Environment and Unleashing Africa’s Agricultural Entrepreneurs: Improving the Enabling Environment for Agriculture.


BAO: What strategic steps is being taken by TEF in accelerating the empowerment of young African entrepreneurs? 

Parminder: The Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme is a holistic 12 month programme that strategically positions Start-ups to become viable businesses. The combination of all the entrepreneurship Programme modalities – The 7 pillars; the online live-learning support, web mentoring, immersive boot camp, resource library, global entrepreneurship forum, seed funding and membership of the alumni network provides a unique system of intensive and effective support for the start-ups. The end outcome being strong viable businesses, which go on to create new jobs, more new revenue and ultimately enlarge Africa’s private business sector.

With the strategic partnerships and engagement, we have driven in the past two years, the rest of the world has begun to pay attention – not just to the idea of entrepreneurship as a driver for development – but they’ve begun to acknowledge our entrepreneurship programme as a replicable model for addressing the world’s social and economic issues in a direct and sustainable way.

We are helping to educate on the role of entrepreneurship in African economic development by engaging African leaders, policy makers, stakeholders, and investors on the value of supporting African entrepreneurs.  Since January 2015, our Founder has engaged Presidents and Ministers across Africa: Senegal, South Africa, Mali, Cote d’Ivoire, Cameroon, Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya, Zambia, Ghana, Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Algeria, Mauritius to name but a few, sharing the Foundation’s mission to empower African entrepreneurs and introducing the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurs for face to face dialogue.

Through its engagement with global entrepreneurship forums, TEF is promoting the role of African entrepreneurs within the global supply chain and putting African innovators front and center on the global stage.


BAO: Would you say the foundation has achieved its sustainability development goals (SDGs) for 2016? What is the plan for 2017?

Parminder: Yes, the Foundation has and is achieving its sustainability goals. In 2015 and 2016, we have invested near $10 million as seed capital into 2000 entrepreneurs from 54 African to develop their businesses. These business in turn are addressing many of the SDGs. We also included a question in the application form, for the applicants to indicate SDGs addressed by their business idea.


BAO: What specific advice would you have for young African entrepreneurs?

Parminder: The advice to those selected and to those who did not make the cut in 2015, 2016, and 2017, I say never give up. Entrepreneurship is a long-term journey and as Mr Elumelu often says, “entrepreneurs never quit.” Reach out to those who were selected 2017 and those who have graduated from the programme in 2015 and 2016. They will be very willing to share their knowledge and experience of the 12-week Start-up Enterprise Toolkit, developing their business plans, attending the TEF Entrepreneurship Forum in Lagos. Sign up to the TEF, Newsletter, read Alumni Spotlight Stories, watch the TEF Documentary, read the Articles in the TEF Website,download TEF Research and Advocacy Reports and read TEF Impact Report to understand the work of the Foundation. Follow and engage with TEF on social media, on Face Book, LinkedIn, and Twitter, do the same for Mr Tony O. Elumelu. Follow the CEO on Twitter and LinkedIn for weekly articles on entrepreneurship. You must pursue your passions, apply your skills and knowledge to doing what you love, and what you’re good at. You must remain open to keep on learning, maintain that start-up spirit—where you’re forever young, and forever in crisis, outside of your comfort zone.

We have seen evidence that African entrepreneurs create solutions to problems. Where others see challenges, they continue to see opportunities to create jobs and generate wealth.  Hold on to your passion, vision, creativity, and a sense of adventure.Always remember, as entrepreneurs YOU are essential in the transformation of the world we live in. By creating new businesses and new markets, you are the real change agents in your community, country, continent and the world.


Her Bio:

Ms Vir is the Chief Executive Officer of the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF). As CEO, she manages the overall day-to-day operations and strategic development of TEF, as well as the implementation of the Foundation’s key initiatives.

Under Vir’s leadership, the Foundation will continue its mission of empowering African entrepreneurs, and ensuring that entrepreneurship becomes the primary driver of Africa’s economic growth and social transformation.

Previously she was CEO of PVL Media, a specialist consultancy facilitating cross-border business development within emerging markets.

She is a commercially focused board level executive with broad international experience and particular expertise in media, entrepreneurship and business development. Ms Vir has worked in multiple sectors to deliver strategy, partnership development and marketing products and services for corporate and emerging businesses around the world.

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CEO Corner

AVCA Board appoints Abi Mustapha-Maduakor as CEO



AVCA CEO, Abi Mustapha-Maduakor (Source: AVCA)

AVCA: The Board of Directors of the African Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (AVCA) is delighted to announce the appointment of Abi Mustapha-Maduakor as Chief Executive Officer (CEO).

Ms Mustapha-Maduakor joins AVCA from MedAccess, a subsidiary of CDC Group, where she was Head of Business Operations and Finance, overseeing financial and risk management, strategy implementation, and organisational development.

During her tenure as AVCA’s Chief Operating Officer from 2016 to 2019, Abi played an integral role in driving the Association’s strategy, prioritising knowledge exchange and digitisation. Under her leadership, the Association strengthened focus on data and pioneering research, professional development support for private equity stakeholders, and strategic regional partnerships, all of which grew the membership to around 150 investors collectively managing US$1.5trn in assets.

The appointment follows an extensive global search led by the Board.

Abi will take up the position on 1 February 2021, and there will be a transition period with interim CEO, Dara Owoyemi, until her departure.

‘Tokunboh Ishmael, Chair of the Board, said: “After a rigorous process, it was clear to the selection committee that Abi is the right leader for this chapter in AVCA’s life. Her knowledge of the African investment landscape, advocacy, business strategy and risk management will be instrumental in her role leading the Association through its next phase and transformation, as investors and portfolio companies navigate various social, economic, political and institutional challenges. On behalf of the Board, I would like to thank Dara Owoyemi for her immense support and guidance as we searched for a permanent CEO.”

Abi brings several years of finance and banking experience to the role. Previously, she was Special Adviser on private sector development to the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment in Nigeria. She also held leadership positions at Royal Bank of Scotland, Lloyds Banking Group and EY.

Commenting on her appointment, Ms Mustapha-Maduakor said: “It is an honour to be appointed as CEO during this time of tremendous change in the global economy. As the Association’s new leader, my priority will be to build on the success of the past 20 years and transform AVCA into a conduit for diverse and varied sources of private investment in Africa. I look forward to working with the Board and team to deliver first-class member services, putting digital transformation, smart data and collaboration at the heart of our work.”A



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CEO Corner

talabat, MENA leading food and grocery delivery app appoints Hadeer Shalaby as Managing Director



Hadeer Shalaby, new Managing Director talabat Egypt (Source: talabat)

talabat, the region’s leading food and grocery delivery app, has appointed Hadeer Shalaby as the new Managing Director of talabat Egypt. She will be replacing Sofiène Marzouki, who has been in the role of interim Managing Director since January 2020, who will be returning to talabat’s Dubai headquarters to take on a challenging new role at regional level. 

Shalaby will continue to drive talabat in the Egypt market, placing key emphasis on customer experience, supporting our restaurant partners, q-commerce, as well as working hand-in-hand with the government on many initiatives, including rider safety and the continued digitisation of the food and beverage sector.

Sofiène Marzouki, talabat Egypt’s outgoing MD said, “I’d like to take a moment to appreciate our whole ecosystem; our customers, restaurant partners, riders, our employees, and the Egyptian government. This past year has been challenging for everyone, with the COVID-19 pandemic, and I have been very privileged to steer an organisation which has helped to keep many families safe, who rely on talabat to make a living.” 

Shalaby brings a phenomenal record of leading tech companies in Egypt, founding Taxi El Sa7el, the first ride-hailing startup in Egypt back in 2014. In the same year, she then moved on to join Careem as the Founder & GM of Careem Egypt, when they acquired Taxi El Sa7el. Most recently, she had been leading Careem Bus regionally, leading teams in Egypt, UAE and Pakistan. 

Speaking about her appointment, Shalaby said, “Firstly, I would like to thank Sofiène for successfully steering the organisation through the COVID-19 pandemic, rebranding Otlob to talabat as well as collaborations with the government around digitisation of the F&B sector, and creating employment opportunities for Egyptian youth.

These are exciting times for talabat, and moving forward, I want to continue to focus on growth particularly with grocery and pharmacy essentials, as well as continue to create an overall seamless experience for our ecosystem – for our customers, riders, government, restaurant partners as well as the communities in which we operate.’

Toon Gyssels, talabat’s Chief Operating Officer is looking forward to seeing how the organisation will further evolve under Shalaby’s stewardship, and how she will continue to be a role model to aspiring female tech entrepreneurs.

‘We are very excited to continue to attract local top talent to talabat, and we’re proud to say that now, three out of our eight country heads are female. As part of the up-and-coming generation of amazingly talented female entrepreneurs in the private sector in Egypt, we’re looking forward to seeing Hadeer inspire not only our organisation, but continue to provide a guiding light to aspiring young women right throughout the country, and region.’

‘I would also like to thank Sofiène for his great work in Egypt in a year like no other, where he has worked with the team to develop a strong, stable presence for talabat, and we look forward to Hadeer continuing to grow our position in the market.’

Source: talabat


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CEO Corner

Christa Sanders Bobtoya: The Woman Advancing International Education in Africa



Christa Sanders Bobtoya has been involved in the field of international education for the last two decades. She has lived in Accra, Ghana since 2004 and is currently the Director/Head of Webster University’s Ghana Campus, the only American university in the sub-region offering US-accredited graduate and undergraduate degrees. Sanders Bobtoya spent her first decade in Ghana as the Associate Director of New York University’s (NYU) 6th global site and the university’s first study abroad program on the African continent.  As the head of Webster Ghana, she works daily to fulfill the University’s mission of providing high-quality learning experiences that transform students for global citizenship and individual excellence. 

“I have always been passionate about education, international travel and intercultural experiences.  In my role of Director of Webster University Ghana Campus, I am able to fuse together all of my passions where I work daily to fulfill the University’s mission of providing high quality learning experiences that transform students for global citizenship and individual excellence,” says Sanders Bobtoya who is committed to promoting international educational opportunities to students worldwide and has worked and studied in Spain, Germany, Ethiopia, Ghana, Brazil and the United States. 

Sanders Bobtoya has traveled extensively across 5 continents, spanning 85 countries dedicating much of her career to the field of higher education and managing study abroad programs as well as international branch campuses of US institutions both in Europe and Africa. 

Previous experiences have included a role as a Program Officer for the Institute of International Education (IIE) in New York where she managed a range of scholarship programs for both Latin American and African students through the Institute’s Scholarship and Training Programs (STP) division and as the Chief Counselor of Students for Syracuse University in Madrid, Spain where she also co-founded a support organization, Voices of Change, to help students of color cope with discrimination outside of the United States.  Additionally,  Sanders Bobtoya has provided cross-cultural counseling services in Berlin, Germany and developed short-term, faculty-led study abroad programs to both Eastern and Western Africa for Virginia Union University in Richmond, Virginia, and has consulted a number of educational institutions focused on international educational initiatives such as Stanford University, Dartmouth College and the Council of International Education (CIEE), the world’s largest international educational exchange organizations.

Currently, in the role of Director/Head of Webster University’s Ghana Campus; the only American university in the sub-region offering US-accredited graduate and undergraduate degrees, Sanders Bobtoya works daily to fulfill the University’s mission of providing high quality learning experiences that transform students for global citizenship and individual excellence.


“Under my leadership at Webster University Ghana, students are exposed to new ways of thinking and benefit from the cultural diversity and enriching academic environment that strengthens their critical-thinking skills. Since opening our doors in 2014, we have enrolled both undergraduate and graduate students from over 25 different countries, spanning four continents including many from Africa and its Diaspora who later join Webster’s elite network of over 157,000 alumni worldwide,” adds Christa Sanders-Bobtoya who holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Spanish from Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia where she graduated summa cum laude before completing her Ed.M and M.A. degrees in Counseling Psychology with a concentration in cross-cultural studies/multiculturalism from Columbia University in New York.

Learn More about Webster University Ghana at the Online Open House

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