African Youth Entrepreneurship Agreement Signed Between the Tony Elumelu Foundation and UNCDF


Memorandum of Understanding signed on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly

The Tony Elumelu Foundation and the UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) today signed an agreement to support young entrepreneurship in Africa, with a particular focus on historically underinvested areas in African frontier markets.

By bringing together the expertise, experience and presence of the Tony Elumelu Foundation and UNCDF in African markets, the two organizations will work to reach and empower the continent’s most promising young entrepreneurs.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed at the offices of the UNCDF on the fringes of the 77thth Session of the UN General Assembly. The agreement was signed by Tony O. Elumelu, CON, Founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation; and Preeti Sinha, Executive Secretary of UNCDF.

“In Africa we are feeling the harsh effects of youth unemployment. As African leaders, we must do something. As global leaders, it’s important that we work together to address this issue. If we don’t face these challenges today, the world will not be a good place for all of us,” he said Tony Elumelu, Founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation. “In Nigeria alone, around 60% of our youth, who make up half of our population, are not employed. This is a problem that we must solve together. I would like to thank Preeti, your colleagues and the entire UNCDF for supporting this type of partnership. We know what our young people in Africa need, we know how access to finance can help transform their lives. I hope that what we will do today with this partnership signing will help expand and scale our work at TEF. Last year we partnered with the European Union to empower 3,000 young African women entrepreneurs because they share our belief that when you empower one woman, you empower a whole community. We hope this initiative will help us reach even more people across the continent.”

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“LDCs face an enormous demographic challenge as their population is projected to double to 1.7 billion by 2050. The youth population of LDCs aged 15-24 is projected to reach 300 million by 2050, when one in four youth worldwide will live in an LDC. We cannot embark on this journey alone as the challenge is daunting and requires collective efforts. So we welcome collaboration with like-minded organizations working in the same direction,” said Preeti Sinha, executive secretary of the UN Capital Development Fund. “The TEF is unique, a leading advocate for young entrepreneurship in Africa. UNCDF is excited about the endless possibilities of working together in the field of young entrepreneurship, leveraging the strengths of both organizations.”

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The agreement aims to leverage the different capabilities of the two organizations. The Tony Elumelu Foundation is the leading philanthropy empowering young African entrepreneurs, serving all 54 African countries. UNCDF serves as the UN’s catalytic funding arm for the world’s 46 least developed countries, which it views as today’s frontier economies and tomorrow’s emerging economies.

As part of the mission to support youth entrepreneurship in Africa, the MOU will call on the two organizations to mobilize resources for youth-led businesses, including companies operating through joint programs between the Tony Elumelu Foundation and UNCDF.

The two organizations under the MoU will also seek to create platforms that connect such companies with critical resources to support their business models; including financial capital, access to networks and markets and technical assistance.

About the Tony Elumelu Foundation

The Tony Elumelu Foundation is the leading advocate for entrepreneurship in Africa. Our goal is to empower women and men across our continent, boost economic growth, advance poverty eradication and ensure job creation. We believe that the role of the private sector is critical to Africa’s development and that the private sector must create both social and economic prosperity. Established by African investor and philanthropist Tony O. Elumelu, CON, the foundation represents his personal commitment to creating a new generation of entrepreneurs through his investment company Heirs Holdings. It is active in all 54 African countries.

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About the UN Capital Development Fund

UNCDF provides “last mile” financing models that free up public and private resources, particularly at the national level, to reduce poverty and support local economic development. UNCDF’s funding models operate through three channels: (1) Inclusive digital economies that connect individuals, households and small businesses to financial ecosystems that catalyze participation in local economies and provide tools to lift people out of poverty and into financial life manage; (2) local development finance that empowers communities through fiscal decentralization, innovative municipal finance and structured project finance to drive local economic expansion and sustainable development; and (3) investment finance, which provides catalytic financial structuring, risk mitigation and capital deployment to drive SDG impact and domestic resource mobilization.

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