Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, President of the African Development Bank Dr Akinwumi Adeshina, Founder of Tony Elumelu Foundation, Mr Tony Elumelu on Saturday called for the establishment of a Youth Entrepreneurship Investment Bank to provide the needed funding for African entrepreneurs.
The President of Rwanda Paul Kagame, President of Senegal Macky Sall, President of Democratic Republic of Congo Felix Tshisekedi, Prime Minister of Uganda Ruhakana Rugunda also supported the initiative
They said this in Abuja at the TEF’s 2019 Entrepreneurship Forum.
Speaking at the Founder’s Presidential Dialogue session at the event, Osinbajo said time had come for proper funding of entrepreneurs.
He said the need to increase the funding support for entrepreneurs was borne out of the conviction that it would help create jobs, reduce poverty and boost economic development.
He described the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme as a huge success, adding that at a time when the
the continent is being defined by unsavoury and unwholesome stories, beneficiaries of the initiative are changing the narrative.
He said, “I am glad that a number of African governments are represented here – we are challenged to create the enabling environment for all of these young entrepreneurs to thrive.
“Our continent continues to be defined by unsavoury and unwholesome stories, which do not often accurately represent the reality of life and opportunity.
“The people in this room are the perfect and long-awaited counterpoints to those one-dimensional narratives of Africa that have sadly gained ground over the years.
“We must fund young entrepreneurs and provide opportunities for capacity building. Our school curriculums must emphasize not just STEM but critical thinking and entrepreneurship. And the promise of entrepreneurship banks must be kept.”
When asked what the Federal Government is doing to support entrepreneurs through infrastructure development, the VP said that massive investments are being made in roads, rail, power and other sectors of the economy.
For instance, he said in the last two years, over N2.7tn had been spent by the Federal Government on critical infrastructure projects.
Earlier, Adeshina called on governments in African countries to focus more on creating a conductive environment to support businesses rather than channelling their attention on Gross Domestic Product growth rate.
He said while it was good to focus on how to grow the GDP, the emphasis should be on economic growth that can create quality jobs for the people.
He said, “We have banks that are not willing to finance entrepreneurs because of the risks involved. We also have governments that are not doing enough in the area of creating the right environment for businesses.
“Its time for African leaders to shift from youth empowerment to youth investment. We need to set up Youth Entrepreneurship Investment Bank. This bank needs to unlock the entrepreneurial initiative in our youth by looking at assets and not risks.”