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TEF, Red Cross launch $1 million entrepreneurship fund for conflict regions

200 entrepreneurs in North East or Niger Delta regions, will get $5,000 to fund business ideas.

It will support 200 entrepreneurs in two violence troubled regions in Nigeria - North East and Niger Delta.

“We have been looking for a reliable partner in Africa, where over 40% of our work is, to help us develop a sustainable programme that would help people affected by conflict or violence create income-generating activities. After analysis and discussion with affected communities, we decided to support start-ups with innovative ideas in the area of agriculture, healthcare, micro-finance, construction, commerce and fashion, generated by men and women of all walks of life, with or without prior education,” ICRC Deputy Director for Africa, Patrick Youssef, said.

“We believe economic hope is the starting point towards the alleviation of poverty,” TEF Founder, Tony O. Elumelu, commented on the new project.

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The initiative will run alongside Tony Elumemlu Foundation’s existing $100 million 10-year entrepreneurship programme which gives $5,000 seed grants to prospective or micro and small business owners to test their entrepreneurship ideas or grow their existing ventures. Consequently, selected applicants of the ICRC initiative will be announced when TEF releases its list of annual beneficiary of 1,000 entrepreneurs which come from across 54 African countries. Winners from North East and Niger Delta armed conflict regions would also be receiving non-refundable $5,000 grants like their TEF counterparts.

They will also receive quality mentorship and business trainings before accessing the funds.

Power of mentorship

The $100 million TEF Entrepreneurship Programme in its 3-year run has mentored and trained 3,000 African entrepreneurs, generated revenue and created jobs across all 54 African countries. Out of this number, 1,593 entrepreneurs – over 50% – are Nigerian citizens.

The ICRC and TEF partnership is based on the common principle of accountability and proximity to people, a desire to restore livelihoods affected by conflict or violence and the desire to see a positive change in Africa.

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The billionaire banker and investor has always believed in partnerships and the power of people. He once shared that the mentorship he received under Chief Ebitimi Banigo helped framed him to the leader he has become.

"Chief Banigo helped me to develop my strategic thinking and insight and to channel my ideas into concrete action. So that when the opportune moment arrived at the age of 34, I had the set belief to gather a small group together to take over and revive a failing bank through innovations in our services," he said.

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