UBA Encourages Young Entrepreneurs

By Saidu Dumbuya 

The Managing Director/CEO of the United Bank for Africa Sierra Leone Ltd, Mr. Usman Imam Isiaka last Friday, 22nd January 2021 at Brookfields Hotel, Kingharman Road in Freetown, encouraged young entrepreneurs to apply for the TEF programme. 

Addressing journalists and young entrepreneurs at the meeting, Mr. Isiaka said he was excited to be at the meeting, as they join other UBA Subsidiaries across Africa in promoting the course of African Youth empowerment through the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) Entrepreneurship Programme. 

He said the TEF programme is a privately owned foundation founded by the Group’s Chairman of UBA, Mr. Tony Elumelu as part of his drive to empower the African youth. According to him, while it is not a UBA Bank led initiative, as a bank operating in Sierra Leone, they are desirous to ensuring that an increased number of Sierra Leonean youth apply for and benefit from the Entrepreneurship Programme by increasing the level of awareness for the programme in the country through this partnership with the Ministry of Youth and the existing TEF Alumni who are previous beneficiaries of the Awards.

He pointed out that the Tony Elumelu Foundation established in 2010 is the champion of entrepreneurship in Africa through its US$100M Fund for the identification, training, mentoring and provision of US$5,000.00 seed capital to 1000 young African entrepreneurs annually over a 10 year period that started from 2015. 

He maintained that the objective of TEF is to empower women and men across the continent, noting that as at to date, a total of 9, 038 young African entrepreneurs across the 54 African countries have been empowered with access to training, mentoring, seed capital and business network through TEFConnect; the largest Digital hub for entrepreneurs in the continent with over 1million subscribers.

He furthered that the 2021 Tony Elumelu Foundation TEF Entrepreneurship programme application will be opened on 1st January, 2021 and will last until 31st March 2021. 

The Application portal for the submission of business proposal for the grant is available on TEFConnect Digital Platform (www.tefconnect.com).

This year’s intervention prioritises the economic recovery of small and medium scale enterprises (SMEs) and young African entrepreneurs, following the COVID-19 disruption to economic activities. 

Improving the Sierra Leonean Youth participation through collaboration with the Ministry of Youth Affairs and TEF Alumni over the years, Sierra Leone has had a little over 100 applications with just a handful of those applications making it through to the final stage. This year, the bank has decided to collaborate with the Ministry of Youth Affairs and the TEF Alumni to drive a higher participation level from Sierra Leone and have more Sierra Leonean youths benefit from this enormous opportunity.

Minister of Youth Affairs, Mohamed Orman Bangura said they are ready to collaborate with the Bank so as to ensure that the opportunities presented by TEF is hugely benefited by young people.

He said gone are the days when young people would only rely on saying ‘bra you borbor dae oh,’ urging them to grab the opportunity by applying for the grant.

Mohamed Kamara, one of the young entrepreneurs from Lant Salone thanked the Foundation for the opportunity given to them as young people. He said through the Foundation, his enterprise has been able to invent lots of renewable energy systems for poor rural communities.

“We have also invented a local antenna that connects several local TV channels across Sierra Leone,” he informed while encouraging fellow young people to tow the line and apply for the grant as there are a lots of opportunities lined up to be grabbed at TEF programme.