The Chairman, Heirs Holdings Limited and Founder, Tony Elumelu Foundation, Tony Elumelu, has expressed that Africa’s prosperity is hinged on the public sector’s willingness to complement the private sector’s efforts through the creation of an enabling environment that will support entrepreneurs and businesses.
Elumelu said this while acknowledging the role of the state in providing an enabling environment, adding that private sector prosperity leads to wealth creation and social benefits for all.
He said this at the virtual Jamaican Stock Exchange (JSE) 17th Regional Investment and Capital Market yearly conference 2022, where he reiterated that ‘Africapitalism’ positions the private sector, and most importantly entrepreneurs, as the catalyst for the social and economic development of the African continent.
According to him, the vices associated with large youth populations such as terrorism, illegal migration, violence, and all forms of extremism are caused by unemployment and lack of economic opportunity.
He pointed out that there is no shortage of people with ideas in the continent but a lack of capital willing to support their aspirations.
“Our most important resource is our people so we must constantly encourage and support them. And this is true for Jamaica and the Caribbean. Empower youths and entrepreneurs and watch them create jobs and reduce poverty,” he asserted.
Elumelu cited TEFConnect, its online proprietary digital entrepreneurship hub connecting over 1 million users with each other to trade and collaborate across borders.
He said the company has supported over 15,000 African entrepreneurs across multiple sectors to scale their businesses through the programme.
“We have young and vibrant entrepreneurs who operate in the fashion, healthcare, agriculture, education, power, and they all leverage technology to deliver services and transform their communities.
“We understood the need for partnerships early on when we saw that hundreds of thousands of young Africans were applying for the programme and our commitment was only 1000 entrepreneurs annually.”
He commended the Managing Director of JSE, Dr. Marlene Forrest-Street and her team on their efforts to raise the profile of the exchange to over $16 billion value, adding that the team has brought over 80 companies to raise capital through the exchange.
“They have helped develop entrepreneurs and their businesses. I speak today as an entrepreneur that has benefitted from the capital markets, the Nigerian stock exchange to be precise.
“I have often said that the capital market is the engine of capitalism. A well-regulated, responsible capital market is of positive benefit to an economy. Properly run, it can democratise wealth and sustain growth.”
Elumelu also stressed the need to leverage digitalisation and strengthen ties between Africa and the diaspora.
He urged African leaders to continue to find ways to collaborate and strengthen opportunities for the people.
“We call on the public sector to put this collaboration as a key action point from this great conference. We must all ensure that the cultural linkages that connect Africa and the diaspora are strengthened not weakened.
“We have so much to learn from one another, our experiences and knowledge must be harnessed for the upliftment of Africa, the Caribbean, and the diaspora everywhere and anywhere,” he said.