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FG explains YES at Elumelu’s Foundation Forum in Lagos

The Federal Government has once again given an insight into the N10bn Youth Entrepreneurship Support (YES) project of the government, saying the scheme is designed to empower youths with loans to start businesses, as part of the job-creation initiatives of the administration.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, gave the assurance at the 2016 Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) Entrepreneurship Forum, held at the weekend in Lagos.

According to him, government will encourage other Nigerians to emulate the activities of Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) so as to work with government t drive entrepreneurships.

He assured that such programmes will enhance the YES project to create about 36,000 jobs annually.

The Minister noted that “With insecurity and corruption also being tackled decisively, the enabling environment is being created for businesses to thrive in the country. We hope, when the time is ripe, young entrepreneurs like you will take advantage of these opportunities”.

He disclosed further that “To encourage entrepreneurs like you and also bring in more investments, the administration is delivering in its commitment on the ease of doing business”.

“In fact, the president has approved the establishment of the Presidential Council on Ease of Doing Business, in order to remove unnecessary red tapes and other impediments, thereby facilitating registration of businesses, clearing of goods from the ports, obtaining visa, paying taxes and obtaining land titles, among others.”

The Minister, who was a panelist alongside President Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone, former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, former Prime Minister of Benin Lionel Zinsou and Africa’s richest woman Folorunso Alakija, said that the present administration is also taking measures to reduce fiscal and forex imbalances, boost dollar liquidity, curb inflation, lower interest rate and ensure lending to real sector.

The forum for the 1,000 budding entrepreneurs from across Africa was organized by the TEF.

The Forum celebrates the 2016 cohort of Elumelu Entrepreneurs, selected from over 45,000 applicants. It is the annual highlight of the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme and saw the presence of leading policy makers and business leaders from across Africa, giving their support to the Foundation and its promise to identify, train, mentor and seed 1,000 entrepreneurs in a decade-long $100 million commitment. Following the Forum, each entrepreneur is eligible to receive up to $10,000 to implement their business plan.

Applauding Tony Elumelu’s promise to not only empower entrepreneurs, but also to tackle the fundamental economic challenges confronting the African continent, His Excellency Ernest Bai Koroma, President of Sierra Leone called on others to emulate Elumelu. “Even when we had Ebola in Sierra Leone, Tony was there. His is an example which other successful Africans must follow.”

In his keynote speech, Mr. Elumelu stated “I salute those here; our ambition is that you become ambassadors for entrepreneurship in Africa – you are a generation of wealth creators, who share our commitment to the economic and social transformation of Africa. Let me tell you about Momarr Mass Taal, the CEO of Tropingo Foods, who has turned his first $5,000 seed capital received from the Foundation last year, into a $1.2 million revenue business. We all want many more of these! However, as excited as I am about the 2,000 entrepreneurs that we have selected, this gathering is in some ways bittersweet, as I reflect on the 63,000 ideas received in the Programme’s short two years of existence we were unable to select – our commitment is to all entrepreneurs in Africa.”

Mr Elumelu challenged all stakeholders from the public and private sectors, civil society, multilateral organizations and all individuals invested in Africa’s economic development to join hands with the Foundation to support the wider African entrepreneurial community.  “We need to support our entrepreneurs because extreme poverty and economic opportunity rarely coexist in the same place.”

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