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: www.tonyelumelufoundation.org and also The TEF Documentary https://youtu.be/lE2Tt-TfhJI 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.
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.
African Bank Appoints Kennedy Bungane, CEO
African Bank New CEO, Kennedy Bungane (Press Release & Image: African Bank)
African Bank (“Board”) announces the appointment of Mr. Kennedy Bungane as the Chief Executive Officer (“CEO”) and as an executive director of the Bank and its holding company, African Bank Holdings Limited (“ABH”) effective 14 April 2021. The Bank confirms that the appointment of Kennedy was done in accordance with African Bank’s policy on the selection and nomination of executive directors, and in order to fill a vacancy as well as add to the skillset on the Board.
Kennedy brings over 20 years of banking experience with him, having started his career at Standard Bank in 1991, holding a number of senior positions, including Head of Global Markets Sales, Head of Institutional and Corporate Banking, CEO Corporate and Investment Banking for Standard Bank South Africa, and a member of the Standard Bank Group Executive Committee. After joining Barclays Africa in 2012 as Chief Executive of Barclays Africa Limited and Head of Absa Group strategy, Kennedy led the sale of Barclays Africa Limited to the ABSA Group. More recently, Kennedy headed up the Phembani Group as its CEO. He also brings investment and strategic experience gained as the founder and chairman of Nokeng Telecoms and chairman of Idwala Capital.
Kennedy holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree, a Master of Business Administration, and completed the advanced management program at the Harvard Business School (USA).
Commenting on Kennedy’s appointment, the Chairman of the Board, Thabo Dloti, stated, “We welcome the appointment of Kennedy as the new permanent CEO. Kennedy has a keen sense for managing complex stakeholder issues. He has a proven track record in identifying and nurturing leadership, which promotes strong teams to deliver successful results. His passion for the role that banking can play in transforming society resonated strongly with the Board.
As an experienced banker, he also critically has a good grasp of the strategic challenges facing the Bank, within a muted South African economy and competitive landscape, as well as the required regulatory and governance framework.
African Visionary Fund (AVFund) Appoints New co-CEO, Atti Worku
African Visionary Fund (AVFund) New co-CEO, Atti Worku (Source: African Visionary Fund Website)
About a year ago, African Visionary Fund launched with a bold mission to tackle the inequities and power imbalances in global philanthropy by driving unrestricted resources to African visionaries. At the heart of all they do their values of equity and solidarity, which compel them to center African voices at every level of the organization. They are thrilled to announce the Fund’s new Africa-based co-CEO, Atti Worku!
Atti brings a wealth of experience in the nonprofit world, is a strong advocate for local founders, and is dedicated to righting the historic funding inequity that can hold them back. Prior to joining the Fund, Atti founded and led Seeds of Africa for over 10 years. Seeds is an Ethiopian grassroots organization dedicated to developing the educational foundation for the next generation of African leaders. Under her leadership, Seeds grew from an after-school program serving 15 kids to becoming a full-time multi-dimensional school educating 250 students from pre-K to middle school, and working with over 150 of their mothers providing small business entrepreneurship micro-loans and resources. In just over a decade Seeds has impacted the lives of over 2,000 people, transforming the trajectories of students, teachers, mothers, and their families and creating a future brimming with possibilities beyond a poverty trap.
“My mission is to advocate for African visionaries to be recognized by funders as experts, equal partners and critical drivers of systems change. I’m excited to learn from incredible African leaders with big dreams and even bigger global potential.” -Atti Worku, AVFund co-CEO
The African Visionary Fund is built on the firm belief that proximity matters. Seeded by a group of foundations and philanthropists who wanted to not only take action on equity but also be intentional about shifting the power over resources to African visionaries, shared leadership has been part of the Fund’s DNA from the beginning.
“Co-leadership is mission critical. We cannot build new models for equity-centered philanthropy without living those values within our own institution.” -Katie Bunten-Wamaru, AVFund co-CEO
The AVFund’s organizational journey started with collective and shared leadership in mind as our Founding Working Group worked with our leadership to inform and design all aspects of our organization and funding model. This majority-African, majority-doer group considered a number of different leadership structures for the Fund but gravitated towards co-leadership because it prioritizes proximity and equity, centers the experience of African visionaries, and ultimately helps us shift power.
Our Founding Working Group proved that we can co-create new models of philanthropy centered on collective leadership that shift power and center equity – our co-leadership model is the natural, values-aligned extension of that founding idea.
Atti’s lived experience as an African founder has given her firsthand experience of the realities and complexities that local innovators face, making her a great partner in executing the Fund’s mission.
“This role is very personal to me. I see myself in the ambitious and innovative entrepreneurs we engage with at the AVFund. I hope to learn from them, and partner with them to redesign funding systems that give African visionaries an equitable chance of success.” -Atti Worku, AVFund co-CEO
The barriers for African visionaries have been well documented with data showing that less than 5.2% of US foundation giving specific to Africa goes to African-led organizations. And in Atti’s experience, sometimes philanthropy’s oversight of African founders translates into a heavy emotional toll, an internal struggle she also had to deal with in her experience fundraising for her organization. She is committed to helping other African visionaries by being “the voice that reassures and validates them in the face of injustices.”
“Raising philanthropic dollars can be a long trauma for African social entrepreneurs and other leaders of color. On one hand, you’re doing innovative, high-impact work, but on the other, you are constantly being asked to prove yourself on a level far beyond your peers, doing so, and somehow still falling short. Aggregate data on racial inequity in philanthropy already speaks volumes, but systemic injustice is deeply personal. It took me years to realize that I wasn’t the problem,” Atti shared.
At the core, the AVFund seeks to create a bridge between global philanthropy and innovative African social changemakers and to do that, it’s critical to have proximity to both our visionary partners and our funding partners. Shared leadership makes this possible.
“There is an inherent tension in the work of the AVFund – we call it the ‘play the game, change the game’ balance. We want to support African social changemakers to play the game to access more sustainable funding now, while also challenging the status quo in ways that build a more equitable philanthropic ecosystem in the long run,” Katie explained. “There will always be a need to balance this tension – having a co-leadership model helps us balance both sides of our work and not lose sight of either goal.”
Having been on both sides of the table, Atti believes a further added benefit of co-leadership lies in the fact that representation matters. “I have been a micro-funder through Seeds and have seen the value of someone like you believing in your vision and empowering it,” she shared.
“At AVFund, we celebrate and choose co-leadership because we recognize the importance of diversity for strong, grounded and authentic leadership.” -Melizsa Mugyenyi, Advisory Board Member.
Atti joins the Fund at a crucial season of our organizational journey as we look to deepen our impact across the continent – we are more than a third of the way towards reaching our goal to raise US$10 million which will enable us to provide 35 nonprofits across Africa with unrestricted, multiyear grants by 2023.
In the near-term, the Fund is also on track to commit atleast another $US1 million later this year and partner with more African social innovators. Atti is particularly excited to work with those at the forefront of leading-edge innovations whose potential for impact is inhibited by lack of resources and buy-in from funders.
“African visionaries aren’t often given the resources they need to validate the new concepts they have which really makes innovation very difficult. A lack of unrestricted funding for the disruptive ideas coming out of Africa limits potential and slows development. I’m ready to help change that in every way we can!” -Atti Worku, AVFund co-CEO
Rolake Rosiji, ex-Country Manager M-KOPA Solar Appointed As The New CEO Of Jobberman Nigeria
Rolake Rosiji, CEO at Jobberman (Source: ROAM)
Jobberman, the single largest job placement platform in sub-Saharan Africa, has announced the appointment of Rolake Rosiji as the new CEO. Rolake takes over from Hilda Kragha, now Managing Director of ROAM Africa Jobs, and will continue the work of establishing Jobberman as the primary platform for job searching, talent acquisition and transforming workplace productivity across Nigeria.
Jobberman’s technology-driven platform, which uses tools such as application tracking, data science for skills and personality assessment, connects over 1 million job seekers to employers. With over a decade of experience in the recruitment industry, the company has built a reputation of trust and strong partnerships with the country’s most coveted employers; matching talented candidates with jobs according to their skillset.
Rolake joins Jobberman with a decade of global experience in strategic leadership and operational excellence. Most recently, she led the technology and sales operations for credit financed smartphones and solar power sets as Country Manager of M-KOPA Nigeria; a connected asset financing company that makes financing for everyday essentials accessible to everyone. Prior to that, she was Head of Strategy & Business Development for Arla Foods Africa, where she developed distribution and joint venture partnerships across West Africa to rapidly scale up sales and worked in Corporate Strategy roles in Denmark and the USA. Her proven track record of business expansion projects, digital and technical transformation and executing strategic partnerships will be key to her implementation for growth and development of the brand.
Commenting on her new role as CEO, Rolake Rosiji said “This is a very exciting chapter in my career and I am delighted to be joining such a passionate and innovative team. Jobberman has built a brand of excellence by using technology to revolutionise the recruitment sector. I look forward to steering the company vision to build a market of greater technology adoption, democratic access and transparency that will tackle dominant challenges, notably youth unemployment and underemployment. It is a privilege for me to be at the helm of this dynamic team as we set out to empower job seekers with key skills and improve workplace productivity for employers in Nigeria.”
Hilda Kragha, Managing Director of ROAM Africa Jobs added “I am delighted that Rolake has taken on this position. Rolake’s expertise, understanding of different markets and high performance is what makes her the perfect person to anchor the next phase for Jobberman. I look forward to working with her to take Jobberman to even greater heights.”
Rolake took on her role as CEO on February 1st 2021. Her focus will be to broaden the impact beyond the white-collar space and continue to work closely with Jobberman’s impact partners in tackling youth unemployment in Nigeria.