Applications for the fifth Entrepreneurship cycle of the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme 2019 will open on January 1.According to the Foundation, applications will be accepted on the digital networking platform for African entrepreneurs, TEFConnect – www.tefconnect.com and 1 000 selected applications will join the current 4 470 beneficiaries of the Programme.
Since 2015, the TEF Entrepreneurship Programme – the only African-funded entrepreneurial catalyst of its kind – has empowered 4 470 African entrepreneurs, with seed capital of $5 000 each; twelve weeks of accelerated online business training; access to experienced mentors; and membership of Africa’s largest entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Beneficiaries of the Programme have been profiled in global media, including the Forbes Africa 30 Under 30 list. They have attracted the attention of investors, as well as been recipients of awards such as the Google Impact Challenge and the Chivas’ “The Venture” Award for Social Entrepreneurs.
The Entrepreneurship Programme has also facilitated exchanges between African entrepreneurs and local and global public sector leaders, investors and development partners, raising their business profiles, scaling their opportunities, showcasing their innovation and identifying ways to further strengthen the business environment in Africa.
In June 2018, the Foundation convened a forum with President Emmanuel Macron of France and young African entrepreneurs. In October 2018, the Foundation was proud to have President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana and President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya address the gathering of young African entrepreneurs at the TEF Entrepreneurship Forum held in Lagos, Nigeria.
The Foundation’s investment, impact and commitment to advancing entrepreneurship is predicated on the belief that Africa’s entrepreneurs hold the key to unlocking the potential of the continent and facilitating the transformation of Africa.
With this objective, the Tony Elumelu Foundation launched the TEF Entrepreneurship Programme, its US$100 million flagship programme to identify over a period of 10 years, 10 000 African startups and entrepreneurs, with ideas that have the potential to transform the African continent. Its goal is to invest in businesses that together can generate at least one million new jobs and contribute at least $10 billion in new annual revenues across Africa.
The TEF Entrepreneurship Programme is open to citizens and legal residents of all African countries, who run businesses based in Africa that are less than three years old. Business ideas that are yet to launch are also encouraged.
One local entrepreneur, also a Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme 2018 Fellow, Omphitlhetse Botlhole told Business Trends that the Tony Elumelu Foundation has real results and has provided a lifeline for many. “Borrowing a leaf from the continental scheme can certainly benefit local youth and other disadvantaged groups,” Botlhole said, adding that “I feel that our people would have more to gain from less direct reliance on the government if they were to take up such opportunities.”
Botswana Railways hit by fuel theft
Botswana Railways lost fuel business due to continuous incidents of stolen fuel from the tanks and delays mainly at Mafikeng, in the north Western side of South Africa.
Botswana Railways Chief Executive Officer Leonard Makwinja said, during 2017/2018, their biggest failure was in this area. “Our biggest failure in this aspect was on imports, transporting of fuel from South Africa proved to be a challenge.
There have been incidents of fuel loss on tankers, sometimes a delay in Mafikeng when trains changed and when it arrives in Botswana the tank would be half empty, “said Makwinja. He said this was worsened by allegations that road transportation was cheaper. Currently, they have employed a fuel consultant to look into the whole fuel transportation. “We believe a solution will be found soon.”
The BR Chief explained they heavily rely on the relationship with Transnet to successfully execute its freight mandate. Most of the imports through rail come from South Africa and the main export through rail which is salt and soda ash is transported from Botash to Mafikeng. “Going onwards we have to depend on Transnet for connections to the respective destinations. Our strategic plan going forward is to improve our services to the oil companies so that we are more reliable, timely and profitable.”
During the period, Makwinja said they had to focus on cost containment. The main cost drivers are staff cost, fuel and maintenance of the locomotives. In his statement on Botswana Railways 2018 annual report, Makwinja said the organization’s performance was subdued due to lack of capacity to meet the demand. “In terms of tonnage, our target was 2 million tons but we only achieved 1, 5 million tons. This adverse variance can be attributed to a number of factors including lack of sufficient locomotives and practicing conservative business initiatives and marketing,” he said.
Calls to improve crop yields with technology
Greenhouse Technologies managing director, Amanda Masire has urged entrepreneurs to venture into agriculture as it is a lucrative business and more beneficial to the national economic development, despite climate change challenges.
Speaking to Business Trends, Masire said there is a need for more training and knowledge on modern agriculture technologies for the country to have sustainable food production. “I am passionate about agriculture and food production. I want to help my country to produce food for itself and reduce dependency on imports. I have learnt that despite all the challenges of climate change, we can still produce our own food through the use of modern technologies,” said Masire.
Masire is an agri-business developer, specializing in horticulture, beekeeping and fish farming. She currently operates Greenhouse Farmers Academy offering training and mentorship on horticulture farming. “Agriculture is the most lucrative business that young people should be looking into. Currently, we depend much on South Africa. We should rise up and develop the sector because as Batswana we have rich land that we are not utilising.” Her services include horticulture starter kit, which includes business plans, lessons, fertilisers and all equipments necessary for a particular horticulture project.
She is currently working with the Ministry of Agriculture Development and Food Security to develop the ISPAAD Program. She said government would embrace modern farming technologies to improve food production. “Most Batswana have lands which they are currently not ploughing because of climate change conditions while the government gives out fertilizers and seeds every year to subsistence farmers yet there is no yield. I have come up with solutions, which include testing soil and supplying lime treatment to reduce acidity. This will help improve crop yield when adopted with other technologies,” she said.
Speaking during Stanbic Lionness Lean In Africa, Masire said with the challenges in the agriculture sector, Batswana should stop looking much into the problems and getting discouraged but should rather think of solutions. “Government is trying but we individuals also need to be innovative and assist government in improving food security. Young people should take opportunity of the agri-business market and reduce unemployment,” said Masire.
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