“Congratulations, you are now a 2018 Tony Elumelu Entrepreneur!”

If you received the above message a couple days ago, this article is for you. If you didn’t, use these tips to improve your chances for the next cycle of the entrepreneurship program coming up in 2019.

According to The Elumelu Foundation, more than 150,000 Africans from 114 countries worldwide applied to join the 4th ‎cycle of The Tony Elumelu Foundation’s 10-year, $100 million TEF Entrepreneurship Programme. If you saw your name as one of the African entrepreneurs with the most innovative, high-potential business ideas, your journey starts now.

Being selected is the first phase of the process, the next phase which is the determinant factor to getting your seed funding is the 12 weeks of intensive online training. I can assure you right now, it’s not a walkover and some entrepreneurs don’t make it through this stage. To help you avoid this nightmare, I am sharing a few lessons from my experience that might be of use to you in getting prepared and essentially get your funding.

  • Take All The Lessons As Soon As They Are Released

During the online training period, there will be weekly lessons and exercises on various topics – from team building to finance to marketing. They are usually concise but can pile up if you don’t take the courses just in time. Therefore, don’t wait until it’s too late before completing your exercises and more so, be sure you’re not just winging it. The lessons are carefully crafted to prepare you for growing your business; whether you’re already in business or just getting your ideas together, the contents are proven business development tools that equip you with the knowledge and skills to succeed in your entrepreneurial journey. For those of us that’s been through this process, it is like an entrepreneurship MBA!

  • Leverage The Mentors And Community Support

Another beautiful thing The Foundation has done is to pair candidates with mentors in their line of business. Be sure to reach out to your mentor at every stage of your training as they will help make your learning experience a great one. If you realize that your mentor is not responsive, reach out to the admins and request a change of mentor. Also, The Foundation has made provision for you to utilize your external mentors in the case there’s no immediate replacement. Learn how to make the best of your mentor-mentee relationship with valuable tips from this article.

Again, your fellow entrepreneurs can be very vital in knowledge sharing. Participate in conversations, ask for help if you need one and provide assistance when you can. The entrepreneurial journey gets lonely at times and having people of like minds in your community is a valuable asset and an important component of the program – to help you connect with innovators like yourself.

  • Craft A Strong Business Plan

Here’s another tough one, if your business plan isn’t approved by Accenture – one of the implementing partners – you won’t get paid. It could be a daunting process if you don’t plan for the task. So, the smart thing to do is to gather the business plan documents as you take the courses because, eventually, your business plan will be judged based on an application of the lessons from the 12 weeks online training. And, don’t ever miss the deadline for submitting your business plan for anything in the world! Although you might get a grace period afterward, the pressure can be incredibly overwhelming.

Ensure your financial projections are also telling the same story as the other parts of the business plan. You will be given some chances to rework your stuff if otherwise. But in the case that you don’t get things sorted out after the given period, you will be disqualified.

Don’t be afraid to ask for your mentor’s second opinion as long as they are not writing the business plan for you. And finally, ensure you submit the required documents like your business bank account and business registration details.

In the words of Tony Elumelu, entrepreneurship is not easy but nothing worth having ever is. This is a great opportunity to make your entrepreneurial dreams happen. Take advantage of it and create your empire!


If you need further assistance, reach out to us to request a meeting with one of our coaches via info@sfanonline.org. Get our bi-weekly email of inspiration, career and business insights. Subscribe here.

Image Credit: Tony Elumelu Foundation