5,000 African entrepreneurs, private and public sector leaders and the broader entrepreneurship ecosystem convened in Lagos on Thursday, October 25, 2018 for the annual Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) Entrepreneurship Forum. The event which is the largest gathering of African entrepreneurs in the world, is a unique opportunity for bringing together young business talent, creating dynamic networks and transmitting the message to policymakers that a vibrant and responsible private sector will deliver economic transformation.
Now in its fourth year, the Forum marked the graduation of the 2018 cohort of the TEF Entrepreneurship Programme, following a rigorous nine-month period of training, mentorship and funding, which brought the total number of beneficiaries of the Programme to 4,470, with over 300,000 applications received to date.
One of the highlights was the unveiling of TEFConnect, a revolutionary digital community that brings together the complete entrepreneurshipecosystem across Africa and beyond, including entrepreneurs, investors and the broader business community on one platform, connecting them digitally with three vital elements for success – capital, market and business tools. Africa is riding a wave of rapid technological driven change in payment systems, education, agriculture and infrastructure and TEFConnect fulfills a critical role in linking entrepreneurs across the continent.
Commencing with a series of goodwill messages from key stakeholders in the investment, governmental and development communities, the event featured a pitching competition, panel discussions, as well as a vibrant interactive session between His Excellency, President Nana Akufo-Addo and the entrepreneurs, moderated by TEF Founder, Tony O. Elumelu. It also featured a session on the role of the private sector in the economic development of Africa with Dr. Awele Elumelu, TEF Trustee, Founder, Avon Medical and Gavi Champion for Immunisation in Africa; moderated by CNNMoney Africa Correspondent, Eleni Giokos. Parminder Vir, CEO, Tony Elumelu Foundation also unveiled the TEF Impact Documentary, featuring success stories of the Tony Elumeluu Entrepreneurs.
Tony Elumelu reiterated his commitment to championing Africa’s economic development by supporting and training a new generation of entrepreneurs, whose successes can transform the continent, delivering opportunity, job creation and social impact. ‘Africa’s future is in African hands’ he stated.
“Our Foundation and its unique approach of training, mentoring and funding has proven that entrepreneurship is the key to unlocking economic transformation of our continent. I believe so strongly that success can be democratized and if we can match ambition to opportunities, this extraordinary generation can achieve anything,” said Tony Elumelu. “With TEFConnect, we have created a tool, that provides a digital platform to host ideas, champion success and demonstrate Africans ability to use the most advanced technologies to take charge of their economic destinies.”
His Excellency, President Nana Akudo-Addo of Ghana underlined the importance of galvanizing the broad entrepreneurship eco-system, calling on public sector representatives to encourage, support and replicate the work of the Tony Elumelu Foundation in their respective regions.
Speaking on the importance of putting the right policies in place, President Nana Akufo-Addo said: “Nothing is changed or developed on its own. People must get up, speak, have discussions and change the dialogue”.
Since its inception, the Tony Elumelu Foundation has empowered African entrepreneurs across the continent with a $5,000 non-refundable seed grant, a bespoke training programme designed specifically for the African environment and access to a dedicated group of mentors, significantly contributing to economic growth, job creation and revenue generation
The Forum was attended by key players in the private and public sector including Governor, Kebbi State, Senator Abubakar Atiku Bagudu; Governor of Bauchi State, Alhaji Mohammed Abdulahi Abubakar; President, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Nike Akande; Former Governor, Cross River State, HE Donald Duke and Former Governor of Anambra State, HE Peter Obi, among others.
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#FirstBankIssaVybe is a case study for any brand – Folake Ani-Mumuney
In ecember 2018, FirstBank promoted a social media campaign tagged #FirstBankIssaVybe, #DecemberIssaVybe. It involved massive ticket giveaways to premium events in Lagos including the FirstBank sponsored Burna Live. Over 500 mostly VIP tickets, which cost from N15,000 to N50,000 – were given away and money raised for Down Syndrome when tickets to Burna Boy’s concert were slashed to N125.
The Group Head, Marketing and Corporate Communications of FirstBank, Folake Ani-Mumuney explains why #FirstBankIssaVybe was a success and what other brands can learn from it.
What is the concept behind #FirstBankIssaVybe and #DecemberIssaVybe?
#FirstBankIssaVybe was a variety performance for us. FirstBank, which has always been your partner in enabling your dreams, takes not just your financial well-being into consideration but your entire well-being by enabling opportunities for families to come together to celebrate. We supported concerts, plays, fashion, food etc. In all of those different expressions, we were making sure we supported our heritage, the value systems we believe in and created opportunities for families to bond across generations. The carefully curated experiences spoke to our ethos, what we believe in and what Nigerians would appreciate. We were not just concentrated like some other brands on specific areas, or just one name; we were true enablers across the raft, and offered variety
Why sponsor events in arts and entertainment?
We are making sure we look at so-called alternative jobs. That’s what the First and Arts platform does, beyond being the repository of our values and heritage which we mustn’t lose. We are creating jobs through entertainment and contributing to the GDP of Nigeria. In the last statistics which I think was in 2017, the creative industries contributed a good 2% to the GDP. They can contribute a lot more. We must diversify the economy and this is one of the reasons we enabled the arts and entertainment.
Why just concerts in Lagos and not nationwide?
With our partners, #DecemberIssaVybe, we were trying to curate across the country as a whole. In previous years we were fortunate enough to identify one or two events we knew were going to take place in other cities. Waka the Musical in 2017, I believe, was taken to Abuja but in 2018, Queen Moremi the Musical which was from the same production company was not. If it were, we definitely would have supported it. We were not as fortunate (as in previous years) in identifying partners who understood what we were trying to do. I think, increasingly, we would like to see a situation where, across the country we see as much (events) as we see happening in Lagos. A good 80% of the events during this past Christmas were Lagos-centric.
How do you make it up to your customers and followers in other parts of Nigeria?
On events outside Lagos, in the past we have sponsored the Igue Festival in Edo State, and for a number of years, we were headline sponsors of the Calabar Carnival in Cross River State. We still make sure our branch within that region actively participates in the carnival even though we are no longer headline sponsors. Some of these events may be powered by branches in those regions and not spearheaded from the centre but we do make sure everybody feels us
What was your criteria for brands (eg: Burna Boy) and events you chose to partner with?
We have demonstrated we have a knack for spotting trends in the creative industries. We identify those we wish to partner with for that year and they end up being the biggest names. As the foremost bank, based on our experience overtime, it should be expected. So any time you see us beginning to push a play or an alternative expression like spoken word or fringe theatres like Freedom Park, just know that person or trend is going to blow.
Would you regard IssaVybe as a success and what do you owe your success to?
It was a tremendous success because we reached a lot of our customers and had amazing feedback from social media. The engagement we had is worthy of a case study for any brand. I have an amazing team. And how they did all of that the whole of Deecember: up all night at the concerts and plays, and then the next day, they kept on going. I just think all of that was the vybe.
Going forward, how does FirstBank hope to capitalise on the publicity gained from IssaVybe?
It was not a publicity stunt. It was actually supposed to be something that would deepen capacity and appreciation of the various genres that I talked about. What we did was cross-pollination: For those who ordinarily would go to concert, when we engaged them, we were also telling them, “Don’t do only concerts; do financial literacy as well.” It was really about making sure we opened people up to new experiences. FirstBank has become the defining curator for December experience
Do you have other promos planned for each month or is this just a one-time thing?
Yes, we do. It is not that we have just started but we have always done. Throughout the course of the year, there’s a very rich and robust calendar of different things.
Will these be tied to your 125th anniversary?
This year we are definitely going to be celebrating 125 years. If you look globally, how many countries can claim and boast of having an institution over a 100 years. We want Nigerians to be proud to say actually, we have a home grown brand that stands tall with other companies out there at 125 years. We are a bank and a brand that has demonstrated, within its DNA, it knows how to reinvent itself and remain relevant through all ages. We are still at the forefront of technology and innovation through all the things we do. Very true to our name, we have introduced a lot of things first. I think there’s reason to celebrate 125 and everything we do this year would be around it.
Why the sudden push for a young, hip brand image –through #FirstBankIssaVybe for example?
What we push for is to remain around for the next 125 years. It is not necessarily about appearing cool but enabling everybody to succeed, young and old alike. We are a bank for all generations.
Microsoft 4Afrika partners FirstBank to support SMEs
First Bank of Nigeria Limited, together with Microsoft 4Afrika, will host a free-to-attend event for SMEs in Nigeria, designed to promote technology adoption and skills development.
The event will serve as an official launch of the new partnership between Microsoft 4Afrika and FirstBank, following a memorandum of understanding signed earlier in June 2018. The partnership seeks to build the capacity of local SMEs and accelerate their digital transformation, by providing them with exclusive and tailored non-financial solutions. Participants will be exposed to skills development resources, access to business networks and an educational platform.
According to Taiwo Shonekan, Head Customer Experience and Value Management, First Bank of Nigeria Limited: “This partnership with Microsoft enables us to deliver a portfolio of non-financial solutions to our SME customers. We have over the last 125 years supported SMEs in building their business, whilst contributing to the national economy. This partnership is a landmark step in our quest to leverage the influence of technology in businesses, especially in today’s digital age.”
“With this partnership, FirstBank customers can buy Microsoft products at discounted rates in the local currency – the naira – as this seamlessly aids technology adoption, skills and capacity development among SMEs in Nigeria,” she adds.
Amrote Abdella, Regional Director of the Microsoft 4Afrika Initiative and the keynote speaker for the event says: “For SMEs, integrating technology into their operations is no longer an option, but a necessity for future growth and success. We’re looking forward to engaging in discussions that explore how technology can extend reach to new markets and improve productivity, which results in better customer service, more competitive offerings and the ability to act with agility.”
Across the continent, Microsoft 4Afrika is forging partnerships with several players in the SME ecosystem – from banks to telcos – to enhance SME offerings and reach a broader audience.
“Technology and the relevant digital skills today play such an integral role in business success. We’re working with organisations to extend this support to as many SMEs as possible, ensuring not only their success, but the growth and competiveness of our continent in an increasingly digital world.”
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