Nigeria is an evolving economy with the highest population in Africa, and also the highest rate of entrepreneurs in the world.
Do you know that there are more entrepreneurs in Nigerian than in any nation of the world? Yes, this is more reason why both government and the private organization has taken extra steps to make funds available for aspiring business owners, this type of funds are usually called business grants. Business grants are awarded all over the world, but it is more prevalent here in Nigeria because of the need to develop the economy and create more jobs.
Business grants are funds made available to you to help build your business, and does not require that you pay back, or if any form of equity is requested of you, in other words, the money given to you is free.
When it comes to awarding business grants, the most popular organization that does this here in Nigeria the most is the Tony Elumelu Foundation. Most people think it is the only business grant-awarding organization in Nigeria, there are still other business grants organization, and this is why I dedicated a whole article to shed more light on the topic. Click the link below to get started.
Do you have a business idea that needs funding here in Nigeria? Stay tuned because this article is for you. One reason why most aspiring business owners complain lies in the fact that they don’t have enough funds to start their business.
I agree with them most times, but not every time is money usually the issue, there are so many things to learn as regards starting a business, some of which includes marketing, business operations and even ideation
Who Is Tony Elumelu?.
In the midst of bad governance and an unstable government, very few Nigerians have chosen to believe in the good that this land has to offer and that involves investing in the youth. Just to give you a quick breakdown of who Tony Elumelu is.
Tony Onyemaechi Elumelu is an African entrepreneur, and humanitarian, born on 22 March 1963. He also owns multiple businesses such as the Heirs Holdings, the United Bank for Africa, Transcorp and patron of The Tony Elumelu Foundation.
Tony Eluelu hails Delta State Nigeria. He possesses two degrees in economics from the University of Lagos and Ambrose Alli University respectively.
He is married to the love of his life in the name of Mrs Awele Vivien Elumelu and they are happily married with seven kids together
Elumelu holds the Nigerian national honours, the Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON) and Member of the Order of the Federal Republic (MFR) in 2003.
He won Nigeria’s National Productivity Order of Merit in 2019. Elumelu is covered in Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People of 2020.
What is The Tony Elumelu Foundation About?
The Tony Elumelu Foundation is a leading champion of entrepreneurship in Africa. The major objective of this organization is to raise women and men in Africa to be able to boost economic growth, poverty eradication and ensuring job creation.
In 2015, the Foundation started the TEF Entrepreneurship Programme, a $100 million pledge by Tony Elumelu to grant 10,000 African entrepreneurs across 10 years.
The Tony Elumelu Foundation has raised, mentored, and supported over 9,000 young African entrepreneurs beyond 54 African countries throughout its Entrepreneurship Programmes, and provides capacity-building assistance, bulletin and market linkages to over 1million Africans within its digital networking platform.
Basic Requirements Needed For The Tony Elumelu Foundation Grant.
To become eligible to receive the Tony Elumelu Foundation grant, there are terms and condition that must be fulfilled to make the grants accessible to you.
There are so many rumours everywhere about this grant, you should ignore those rumours and concentrate.
In this section, I am going to be covering the majority of these criteria.
1. The programme is welcoming to all residents and lawful residents of any one of the 54 African countries. The expected business must be designated and work in Africa.
2. Candidates must be 18 years old and must not be regarded as a minor in their country of habitation. There is no upper-limit age constraint.
3. The programme is not permitted to research institutions, religious organisations, value-adding trading companies, government contractors and businesses not established in Africa.
Businesses must not negatively affect the environment, lives and property. Business ideas must be for-profit and must be the genuine work of those executing the submission.
4. All businesses must be business ideas or an early-stage company, in a span of 0 to 5 years old. Your application must concentrate on one business idea only.
According to their website, these are some of the most important criteria that must be strictly adhered to. Most of the things that I am going to list now are not that important but are also important if you intend to boost your application.
6. Website – This is not important, but it can help you increase your chances of getting the business grant. Owning a website that showcases your intended business idea will generate the impression that your business is ready to take off.
You can create a website now, with less than N30,000 and it will live, I wrote an article to help you get started, click the link below to get started.
7. Create a social media page – As I said earlier, all this does not make you win the grant, it just an added advantage to make your business stand out among the crowd.
All you need to do is create an individual profile for your business via various social media pages such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, it has a lot to say about how your business would look like.
I wrote an article to help you get started with going on social media, click the link below to get started.
How To Apply For The Tony Elumelu Foundation Grant.
All application of the Tony ELunelu foundation is done via a dedicated online portal, everything that requires the registration are made available via this portal. Kindly note that things are usually changing every year, and you might encounter glitches while attempting to register, you should not give and up and continue trying.
If you are not tech-savvy in nature then you might need to seek the help of someone who knows how to navigate the waters of the internet.
1. Log on to The Official website.
The first step is to create an account on the official web portal of the Tony Elumelu Foundation. Open your desired web browser via desktop or mobile and visit tefconnect.net, you would be prompted to create an account or use an existing account if you are a previous applicant.
I detected the issues when attempting to create an account or sign In using an email and a password, in this case, what I recommend you do is use the Google and the Facebook login option, if you are not able to use the generic email and password option.
Don’t be upset or give up, so much is happening, and it seems like an upgrade is being made from the previous web portal to a brand new one, so you might experience little glitches, just follow the instruction as stated.
WEBSITE – TEFCONNECT.NET
2. Navigate your way To The official Business Pitch Portal.
Now that you are logged in on the website, you would be redirected to an online community platform that works pretty much like social media, all you would be able to do is see posts from entrepreneurs like you, and also create a post if you like, also in this web portal you would have access to fill your personal profile, and the profile of your business, never mind, this is not compulsory.
As earlier stated, the journey does not end here, you need to find your way to the official grant application portal, and to do this you have to click the application link at the top of the navigational bar as shown above. You would be presented with this image, then you can go ahead and apply.
3. Fill in The Appropriate Bio Data Correctly.
Having clicked the link to the grant application form, the next thing to do is to start filling in your details appropriately, You would be presented with a form that requires that you enter the following details.
1. Full name – Make sure it matches the name on your national identity card and your international passport.
2. Date of Birth.
4. Highest Level of Education.
5. Valid means of identity – Note, that this can be your national id card or your passport, whichever one you may have.
6. Next Of Kin – This section includes details about a confidant, and by this, I mean someone very close to you
3. Pitch your Idea.
After you must have completed the Bio section the next section enables you to pitch your business idea, all you need is a four-sentence summary of what your business is all about.
Also, in this section, you would be asked to fill in details such as; The Business niche, and the relevant number of years that you have in this business.
Note – When Pitching your business idea for the Tony Elumelu business grant you need to understand that your familiarity with that business matters a lot. Not too many people will tell you this, all I see online is most alumni boast about fact that they were privileged to have won the grant at some particular time in their lives.
The bottom line is to pitch an idea that you are familiar with, don’t pitch what someone recommends to you. The relevance that you have in that particular field makes you stand a better chance of winning.
Here is my principle, for example, I am a digital nomad by experience, I have various skills in tech-related stuff such as web development, digital marketing. If I were to pitch a business idea to get the Tony Elumemlu Grant I will pitch something related to tech, why is this? because I have relevant experience, and I can always defend myself with enough confidence.
Just in case you don’t know the kind of business that you can get started with, you can click the link to the article below to get started.
4. Take The Personality Test.
The next section that you would be presented with is the personality assessment test, this is a psychological based test to assess the kind of personality that you have when it comes to running a business.
Do you know that the kind of personality that most people possess cannot make them run a business successfully?
Especially most people that are used to working 9-5 all their lives, give them a business and they ruin it when they feel the business is not doing well, they are too eager to return to their miserable 9-5 life where they are not permitted to engage in the act of critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
The good news you can always remould yourself just the way you want to be. There is a popular saying that entrepreneurs are born, Entrepreneurs can also be made, all that matters is the mindset. There is no magic to this section, make sure you fill it according to your personality type.
5. Take The Cognitive Test.
Now that you have taken the personality test, the next section is to test how analytical you are, by giving you a basic logical question related to basic mathematics and English Language.
Make sure that you don’t waste time on this section, fill it as fast as possible, and stick to the time allotted. You can make use of a calculator, and a reference if you seem not to understand. The bottom line is to stick to the time.
6. Declaration and Submit.
In the end, you would be presented with the declaration section, which contains some additional details about your familiarity with the organization, and also your personal life such as criminal records. You should be careful when filling this section, so as not to ruin your chances of getting granted.
When you are done with this section, you would be presented with the result of your session, which is usually in three categories such namely;
1. DISRUPTOR (1st category).
This implies that you have been recognised to be a natural or an established entrepreneur. You will go through the Advanced training modules and you will have access to world-class mentors throughout the programme.
2. INNOVATOR (2nd Category)
This implies that you have been profiled to be an intermediate entrepreneur. You have great potential to be a flourishing entrepreneur. You will continue through the Intermediate training modules and you will have access to world-class mentors during the programme.
3. START-UP (3rd Category.
This indicates you are a starter according to the business start-up profiling. You will go through the beginner training modules and you will have access to world-class mentors during the programme.
4. PREPARATORY (4th category).
This implies you do not have enough capacity required to start a business. You will only be allowed to participate in the free training hosted on the TEF Portal.
Why You Will Not Win The Tony Elumelu Foundation Grant.
The Tony ELumelu Foundation business grants have been in the business of awarding well-deserved entrepreneurs for over ten years of operation but most people just hear of it, apply and at the very end they get rejected, most people even outsource various third party to handle the whole process but they never get it right.
The truth is that, there are some things that you must do by yourself, I am not asking you not to consult an expert or alumni, but you have to take time to do some in-house check before doing so.
Here are some of the major reason why people get rejected.
1. Your business idea does not relate to your experience.
Nigerians are jack-of-all-Trade, and would just do things because they see people do the same thing and succeed. In my little years of experience, and as an entrepreneur I have discovered that most people don’t even know the kind of business to get started with, most people are doing a business because they see someone doing it.
Choosing a business idea is easy, but no too many people know how to do that. To have a working business idea that can be sold, and can even be used to get business grants you have to ask answer these questions; Do I have passion for this business? Is this Business Idea in my area of interest? Are you already making money from this business idea? How many years of experience do you have in this business idea?
If you have an affirmative answer to this, then you can good to go on to apply and be rest assured that you will get this grant.
2. Unrealistic financials.
The next thing that puts your grant application at risk of getting denied is the fact that your business requires too much money to get it up and running.
Also, If you can not properly articulate what you intend to sell and how you make money, then forget about it. This is why I said earlier, a business Idea that you have not been exposed to will be hard to defend.
3. You submitted too late.
A lot of people fall into the trap of submitting too late, they start their application and stop halfway hoping to come back and finish up, but sadly they never do.
Make sure that you are no enlisted in the university of procrastinators. Another trick for getting this grant is an early application, the early birds get reviewed accurately, you should know that human beings are behind this project, and they are flesh and blood, they are more likely to get tired.
4. No or Low Impact.
The last reason why your business would not be funded by this esteemed organization is that your business lacks the ability to impact people around you, whether far or near.
You stand a better chance of getting the business grant if your business properly outlines the impact of your business both directly and indirectly.
Lastly, I want to reserves this section to thank the Founders of the Tony Elumelu Foundation for upholding a platform to help aspiring and struggling entrepreneurs in times when the government has so neglected them.
Also, apart from the Tony Elumelu foundation business grants, there are still so many other business grants offering organization here in Nigeria and all over the world, this is why I wrote a comprehensive article to get you started with understanding how grants works, click the link below to get started.
The TEF programme Timeline.
I am going to be highlighting this section thoroughly for the newcomers, who are applying for the first time on their own and don’t know how to get started.
Just after submitting your application to the Tony Elumelu Foundation program, there are a lot more that needs to be done to qualify for the seed grants.
You should also make sure to watch out for the follow-up email addresses from the TEF foundation.
The TEF Entrepreneurship Programme will be delivered in different phases as detailed in the paragraph below.
1. The Application Phase.
This is the first stage of the program and is opened only when the TEF Foundation announces the opening of its portal. The application phase usually opens from January 1 to March 31. Once applications are closed, qualified applicants will be placed in the appropriate training path as follows, you should also note that the training path is accessed from an individual account.
Partaking in the training does not mean that you will get the grant.
Most times you may not get an official email about this information, you should ensure that you check your TEF connect online dashboard.
Based on your response on the TEF Connect dashboard, you would be grouped into three phases which includes; Startup/Beginner, Innovator and Disruptor.
If based on your response you fall into the first category (startup Beginner), then you will not be enabled to receive mentorship or seed capital, however, you can take part in the free training and try again next year.
2. The Training And Mentorship Phase.
The next phase in the TEF connect programme is the training and mentorship phase. This phase goes on for about twelve weeks.
Once shortlisted and placed in the proper training path, you will be eligible to take part in our meticulous business training and mentoring sessions.
There will be multiple-choice questions to track your performance. You will attend a virtual orientation program to learn more about the process and we will share timelines and resources available for you to succeed.
The shortlisted entrepreneurs will be given access to join the peer-to-peer support groups. Shortlisted entrepreneurs will be expected to complete the business training, answer the quiz at each end of each module.
The shortlisted applicants after the training will be allowed to build a business plan via the TEF connect platform.
3. The Business Plan And Financials Submission Phase.
At the end of the training, you will be asked to consolidate all the learnings from the training into a single cohesive document. You will be given a business and financial plan template, this will be in the online resource library.
This template will help you create the first draft of your business plan, write a business plan. After the business training and business plan submission, only thriving candidates (who complete the MCQs and score above the cut off mark and submit a business plan) would be eligible to move on to the next stage which is the Pitching competition.
4. The Pitching Phase.
You would be led into this stage after the completion of the business plan and financial submission phase. This is an event to demonstrate your business knowledge and convince the judge about how successful your business can be.
At the pitching stage, entrepreneurs will pitch their ideas before a panel of judges, kindly note that the panel of judges are all members of the TEF programme.
Only the successful candidates from the pitching competition will receive seed capital funding and access to the Alumni network to support their business growth and objectives.
If you achieved all required training requirements and submitted a business plan, but was unsuccessful after the pitching competition, you will receive a training completion certificate and can reapply next year.
Please note that this phase is another key outcome of this training programme and all shortlisted entrepreneurs must go through this phase to be eligible for seed capital.
5. The Seed Capital Phase.
This is the final phase of the competition, and it involves successful entrepreneurs who have been able to complete the pitching phase.
All entrepreneurs who have finished all the above steps will be needed to open business accounts and seed capital will flow into these accounts created.
An entrepreneur who is qualified to receive seed funding will be given a Certificate of completion and achievement from the Foundation.
Please kindly take note of the following steps and make sure to follow through till your business and startup become granted.