The economic philosophy, Africapitalism emerged as a means of fostering economic development in Africa through private sector-led growth.


The economic philosophy, Africapitalism emerged as a means of fostering economic development in Africa through private sector-led growth.

Africapitalism positions the private sector, more importantly, entrepreneurship, innovation, and business enterprise, as the key economic driver of growth and job creation across Africa, while also promoting sustainable development. The Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) is the leading champion of Africapitalism in Africa, and across the world, with significant contributions to the achievement of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) across the continent.

In this piece, we will examine the concept of Africapitalism and the role of the TEF in promoting it for sustainable development in Africa.

What is Africapitalism?

Mr. Tony O. Elumelu’s economic philosophy of Africapitalism is underpinned by his belief that Africans cannot rely solely on the public sector or government for the continent’s socioeconomic development, rather the private sector needs to come together with the public sector to manage and scale critical infrastructures that are pertinent to improving lives and transforming Africa.

The Tony Elumelu Foundation’s mission is deeply rooted in Africapitalism, and we believe that by creating a more competitive operating environment for entrepreneurs, we will unlock prosperity for Africa and Africans.

TEF and Africapitalism:

The Tony Elumelu Foundation was founded in 2010 as a mechanism for fostering economic development in Africa. In 2015, we launched the flagship USD100million Entrepreneurship Programme as a more structured approach to empowering entrepreneurs through access to capacity building, mentoring, networks, and market linkages, as well as non-refundable seed capital.

Through strategic partnerships with leading private and public sector players, the Tony Elumelu Foundation has scaled its impact and created sustainable development in Africa by catalysing entrepreneurship. Today, the Tony Elumelu Foundation has trained over 1.5 million young Africans on, Africa’s largest digital entrepreneurship ecosystem, and disbursed nearly USD$100 million in direct funding to over 18,000 African women and men, who have collectively created over 400,000 direct and indirect jobs.

The TEF and the SDGs:

The United Nations’ SDGs provide a framework for achieving sustainable development worldwide. The Tony Elumelu Foundation’s mission aligns closely with many of the SDGs, particularly those related to economic growth, job creation, and entrepreneurship.

Through its support for African entrepreneurs, the Foundation has contributed to all 17 SDGs, however, below are 5 that the Foundation has significantly contributed to:

  1.  SDG 1 – eradication of poverty: By promoting Africapitalism and entrepreneurship, the TEF has helped to create economic opportunities for low-income individuals and communities.
  2. SDG 4 – promotion of quality education: Through its training and mentorship programmes, the Tony Elumelu Foundation has helped to equip African entrepreneurs with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed.
  3. SDG 5 – Gender Equality: The Foundation is deliberate in its efforts to empower women entrepreneurs to transform their businesses and communities. Over the years, the Foundation has empowered more than 7000 female African entrepreneurs.
  4. SDG 8: One of the key SDGs that the Tony Elumelu Foundation has contributed to is the promotion of sustained, inclusive, and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all.
  5.  SDG 9 – promotion of industry, innovation, and infrastructure: By supporting entrepreneurship and innovation, the TEF has helped to promote the development of new industries and technologies in Africa.

While the activities of the Foundation speak to the different SDGs directly and indirectly, the Foundation also empowers entrepreneurs whose businesses speak directly and indirectly to the different SDGs.

Examples of TEF-supported projects:

The Tony Elumelu Foundation supports entrepreneurs who are committed to solving Africa’s most pressing social and economic challenges and who are aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Here are some examples of the beneficiaries of the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme whose businesses speak to the SDGs:

  • D’Rose recycling: This is an eco-friendly company founded by Adebimpe Oni. It upcycles solid waste like old tyres, bottles, and plastics into recycled furniture suitable for homes, offices, playgrounds, studios, etc. The company seeks to address the challenge posed by the tons of plastics and tyres which end up in the ocean on a yearly basis causing water pollution and which drive sea life into extinction. Its operations align with SDG 11, which aims to make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable.
  • New Beginnings Investment Limited: This is a learning centre founded by a Ugandan entrepreneur, Caroline Ocanda. Through this, she has empowered many girls who have dropped out of school and have no source of income and women who are totally dependent on their husbands and even single mothers who are struggling to survive. This aligns with SDG 4 which aims to promote quality education.
  • The Grain Library (Grainothèque): This was founded by Daniel Oulai who is from a small village in Cote D’Ivoire. He saw time after time, how farm producers sweat and complain about the selling prices of their crops as well as the loss of major portions of their harvest due to poor pest control. He created the business to provide social support to farmers in rural areas by providing access to quality seeds, relevant data and necessary technological tools needed for maximum agricultural output, precision management and general improvements in food production. Its operations align with SDG 2, which aims to end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture.
  • Green Packaging: Gaone Ditsele’s business, ‘Green Packaging’ is centred around the production of biodegradable plastic bags and bottles. The business works to eliminate problems of land pollution and minimise waste volume at landfills to ensure they are not fatal to animal life. This aligns with SDG 7, which aims to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all.
  • Gifted Mom: Agbor Ashumanyi Ako co-founded ‘Gifted Mom’, a digital health platform based in Cameroon which gives pregnant women and mothers across Africa access to vital health information and care. As a digital-first platform, GiftedMom is able to expand faster than traditional healthcare systems and the start-up aims to reach 10 million women in the next 10 years. The platform now has over 170,000 users. The award-winning app has significantly improved both pregnancy check-up attendance and vaccination turnouts, with the ultimate goal to see a world free of preventable maternal and infant deaths. In collaboration with the Ministry of Public health, 28 health facilities and 40 community workers in Cameroon, Agbor has been able to follow up with over 29,000 pregnant women and nursing mothers across the country. Its activities align with SDG 3, which aims to promote good health and well-being.
  • Britts Food: Britts Foods, founded by Belema Alagun, is a start-up focused on delivering the best sandwiches and smoothies to customers. She started her business in a small one-bedroom apartment and has been able to transform her business to a point where they own their pick-up hub. The business activities align with SDG 12, which aims to ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.

These are just a few examples of the thousands of TEF beneficiaries whose businesses align with the SDGs. Through our flagship Entrepreneurship Programme, we remain committed to solving social and economic challenges on the continent by supporting African entrepreneurs who are contributing to the achievement of the SDGs.

Africapitalism is a tried and proven model for driving economic growth and development in Africa through its initiatives to promote innovation, create jobs, and reduce poverty on the continent, which all amplify the Tony Elumelu Foundation’s critical role in shaping the future of sustainable development in Africa.


Credit: The Tony Elumelu Foundation
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