Tony Elumelu Foundation ,a non governmental agency that is focused on youth empowerment, owned and been managed by Tony Elumelu has brought Emmanuel Macron , the youthful president to engage the Nigerian youth! As of today ,the young French President has spoken to Nigerian youths at the prestigious Eko Hotel, Lagos and they have heard him. He made the youths understand that the future is startup and also giving them the required exposure and confidence to thrive in an ever changing world.
This visit shouldn’t be a source of surprise to anyone , by the way Tony Elumelu, as a youthful dude revolutionalized the banking industry with his magic wand. This was evident in UBA , a bank that was seen as a ‘pensioners bank” to an ICT savvy and oriented bank , that is the power of youthful thinking. On leaving the banking, Tony has encouraged, sponsored and mentored many young folks in the area of businesses and start up ecosystem, so it ain’t “biggy” that he facilitated Macron’s chit chat. He has demonstrated that he is performance oriented. Big ups to Tony !
Nigerians are one hell of a people – energetic and optimistic, with a lot of start ups in the country ,the Corporate Affairs Commission registering new companies can attest to this. These are mostly start ups, they get registered on daily basis has demonstrated that the Nigerian youths are not lazy! Emmanuel Macron, the youthful president of Nigeria has engaged the youths , maybe from mentor and role model perspective which the average Nigerian youth is lacking. The Nigerian youth can’t possible point to any senator that is in his/her thirties , no Minister, no vice president or even president! Nigeria can be said to be in a gerontocracy masked in democracy! A leadership by which the old folks hold the carrot and dictate with their “analogue” mindset. A situation that the Nigerian youth has seen as a luxury. So when Tony brought Macron, they realized that it’s a luxury in a freebie and they grabbed it. Macron’s visit would change the perception of the Nigerian youth, trust me . The “can do” spirit would be “gingered” especially during this perilous election period!
Macron , having worked as an intern in French Embassy Nigeria less than two decades understands the challenges that Nigerians face, he also understands the “peculiar” environment that the youths thrive! Against all odds , the Nigerian youths have powered many ICT start ups with tons of incubation hubs like CC hub in Yaba, a private facility that is changing the narratives of Yaba and turning the section of the town the Nigerian silicon’s valley. What about the Start Innovation Hub, one “bad” hub in Uyo , Akwa Ibom that is poised to change the narratives of the state from an oil state to ICT hot spot.
Over the years these youths (Nigerians) against all odds have demonstrated resilient and agility in powering their own , firms like VoguePay, Iroko , Entertainment space , Music and even education businesses like SchoolOn Air and a host of many ICT and other businesses . This , Macron is totally aware of this , irrespective of the briefing !
Access to credit is one thing and the Nigerian banks do not have a clear understanding of how ICT start ups function, in short , majority of the Nigerian banks are yet to have a clear understanding between the difference between a mobile app and a software. They think it’s like oil business that businesses can be forecasted based on the cruise and OPEC benchmark prices. Many have said that Nigerian banks are yet to understand the rudiments of banking ,including Bank of Industry that is busy giving bricklayers, hairdressers and all what not set of businesses access to credit and forgetting ICT ,in an era of Internet of Things (IOT) and machine learning. They don’t get it and they might not get it .
It was the CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg that came and engaged the start up community, then he was at Yaba,until he was “encouraged ” to go to Abuja in order to not to embarrass the “powers that be” now the French president is here. One would begin to wonder when was the last time the president had the chance to engage the Nigerian youth like this ? Oh, I forgot,Nigeria as a country is still confused whether to go mechanise her dairy production or be stuck in 300year old practice of nomadic farming – cattle rearing. So, we are pretty busy here and we are trying to get our “groove on” and the party is busy with 2019 and 2023 , so the youths should just look elsewhere for mentorship and trust Nigerians – they are doing exactly that. Have they written their politicians off ? Time would tell !
The event,France President meeting/chatting with Entrepreneurs. Hosted by Tony Elumelu Foundation at the Eko Hotels and Suites saw many youths and young minded people networking and giving the start ups community a sense of recommendation, recognition and confidence. Over 2000 young leaders in various field of human endeavors attended the event.
It is said that start ups would be trained and mentored in a space of 10 years over 10,000 entrepreneurs would be exposed to world class training and mentorship by Tony Elumelu Foundation in conjunction with the French government. This is a great idea and way to scale the Nigerian start ecosystem.
Tony Onyemaechi Elumelu is a Nigerian economist, entrepreneur, and philanthropist. He is the Chairman of Heirs Holdings, the United Bank for Africa, Transcorp and founder of The Tony Elumelu Foundation.
Anthony Emeka Nwosu