To heighten entrepreneurial activities in the sub-region, the ECOWAS Commission has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) to deepen industrialisation through micro, small and medium enterprises’ (MSMEs) development and start-ups.
At the signing ceremony at the weekend in Abuja, both organisations settled for collaboration to deepen and amplify efforts in supporting the MSMEs to promote entrepreneurship and create wealth.
The pact, which runs for a period of two years, allows the two organisations to leverage their respective capacities and sharpen their focus on entrepreneurship as a tool of development.
The TEF entrepreneurship programme is the largest African philanthropic initiative poised to raising 10,000 African entrepreneurs in the next 10 years with a capital outlay of $100 million. It is also determined to create a million jobs and boost the continent’s economy by $10 billion.
Both institutions, are by contents of the agreement, to formalise and instill competitiveness in the sub-region’s entrepreneurship ecosystem by developing and implementing a regional strategy and charter to promote best practices in MSMEs’ governance, better access to finances, regional and international markets as well as capacity building.
The partnership is also to advocate for improvement in the enabling business environment for MSMEs through joint organisation of workshops along sectoral lines to promote business and investments as well as harmonise policies and fiscal issues that engender friendly business climate.
Speaking at the event which held at the ECOWAS secretariat, president of the Commission, Marcel De Souza, remarked that the sub-regional body sees itself as partners of TEF since both parties share core values on the issues of youth empowerment and poverty reduction in the region.
He lauded the foundation for initiating programmes geared at improving the lives of the younger generation through deployment of the Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement.
TEF founder, Tony Elumelu, thanked the Commission for creating the partnership platform, stressing that the provision of seed capital to young entrepreneurs was something that must continuously be encouraged if Africa was to escape the unemployment and poverty conundrums.
“I am convinced by the fact that collectively, caring Africans can help deal with the challenges of unemployment and poverty by helping our young ones to develop their ideas, realise their dreams and be like the Mark Zuckerbergs of this world,” he said.
De Souza called on other well-meaning citizens of the sub-region to emulate and replicate the foundation in their chosen fields.