This blog post covers everything you need to know about applying for the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme. We even included a TEEP application checklist to help you stay on track.
Every year, the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) commits a whopping $100 million to empower 10,000 talented African entrepreneurs.
The programme not only gives seed capital but also provides training, mentoring, and networking opportunities to help entrepreneurs grow their businesses and make an impact in Africa. But the question remains: will you get your share of the pie? Yes, but only if you know how to apply and get picked.
This comprehensive guide takes you through the entire application process step-by-step, from eligibility criteria to documents required. You’ll also get the lowdown on key deadlines to meet, helpful tips on crafting a strong application, as well as FAQs answered.
So, let’s begin.
Table of Contents
Key Takeaways (Editor’s Picks)
- TEF provides seed funding, capacity building, mentorship, and networking opportunities.
- Entrepreneurs across Africa who have owned small businesses for at least 1 year can apply.
- Registration opens in January and the deadline to apply is the end of March every year.
- The application process is simple as we’ve laid out.
- Applicants must provide business details, financials, a video pitch, and the necessary documents.
- Shortlisted entrepreneurs are trained and must submit a business plan.
- Satisfactory plans get up to $5,000 in seed funding. Expect progress monitoring.
- Ongoing support is offered through workshops, mentors, and access to alumni.
- Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme: Everything You Need to Know
- How to Write a Winning Proposal For the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship programme
- A Nigerian Entrepreneur? See How to Write Business Grant Proposal
Who Can Apply for the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme?
The Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship programme is open to entrepreneurs from across Africa who meet the eligibility criteria. TEEP targets early-stage entrepreneurs based in Africa who own promising small businesses or startups in any industry.
Specifically, the ideal applicants should:
- Be citizens of any African country and live on the continent.
- Own and run a for-profit Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) that has been in existence for at least 1 year. Both new startups and young existing businesses qualify to apply.
- Have a legal business registration or license to operate in their country. This legitimizes the business.
- Have a viable and scalable business idea or model ready for implementation. Applicants cannot be at the conceptual stages.
- Demonstrate passion, personal commitment, integrity, and determination to succeed. These attributes raise your prospects.
- Possess the ability to create economic opportunities and jobs for others through your business. This is a key objective of the programme.
- Operate in any sector including agriculture, ICT, healthcare, education, construction manufacturing, and more. Innovation-driven ideas are encouraged.
Who Can’t Apply For TEEP
While the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship programme is generally open to a broad range of African entrepreneurs across diverse industries, backgrounds, and markets, there are a few key restrictions and limitations you should bear in mind before getting into the application process:
- Research Institutions: The programme does not accept applications from research institutions or individuals affiliated with them in any capacity. Only individual business owners are eligible.
- Faith-Based Organizations: Religious bodies, places of worship, faith-based charities, churches, mosques, temples, or other faith-based organizations are not qualified or eligible to apply for this programme. The business and purpose should be secular.
- Trading Companies: Applicants who are pure importers, exporters, distributors or brokers of goods and services are not eligible to apply. Keep in mind that trading companies do not align with the overarching objectives of the programme even if they are registered formally.
- Non-Profit Businesses: Only the legal owners of registered, for-profit Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are qualified to apply for funding through the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship programme. Non-profit organizations fundamentally do not qualify.
Additionally, those without original business ideas can’t apply. Your business model, plan, and application content must be completely original. Avoid plagiarized or copied ideas, proposals, or documents. The programme will disqualify you if you submit previous work done by others.
Free TEEP Application Checklist
Download this Tony Elumelu Enterpreneurship programme checklist to streamline your application and stay organised.
Step-by-Step TEEP Application Instructions
Follow these steps closely for a smooth application process:
Step 1: Visit Official Website
Visit the official TEF website to access the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship programme application portal. Take time to thoroughly review the website and understand the programme objectives, categories, and process before starting your application. This will help you tailor your application appropriately.
Step 2: Apply
Once you’ve done your research and are ready to apply, simply click on the “Apply” tab at the top of the TEF website. This is where you’ll select the specific programme category you wish to apply for from the dropdown menu.
You’ll need to choose between:
- The flagship Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship programme
- The TEFWomen Entrepreneurship programme
- The Campus Ambassadors initiative
- The Tony Foundation National Business Plan Competition.
Carefully assess which one aligns closest with your funding objectives. Then go ahead and select the category that is most suitable for you before proceeding.
Just a heads up: The “Apply” button on the TEFconnect website is currently not working, at the time of writing this post. It’s parked and is therefore inaccessible (for now).
But don’t fret. You can always check back to apply as soon as the programme resumes for the 2024 cycle.
Step 3: Login or Sign Up if a New User
If you already have an existing account on the TEFConnect platform from applying previously, you can simply log in with your credentials to start the new application process.
However, if you are a first-time applicant to the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship programme, you will need to click on the “Register” button and create a new account. Only use a valid email address.
TEFConnect will send a verification link to this email to activate your account.
Step 4: Select Application Category
Choose the region, country, and sector that your business operates in. Pick the category that best represents your business operations, industry, and market segment. Take your time and make sure you choose the right one.
Properly choosing the category that aligns with your work will help optimize your application for the most relevant consideration by the selection committee.
Step 5: Fill Required Fields and Upload Documents
At this stage, you need to start filling in the various required fields that gather information about you, your background, business overview, financial projections, and more. There will be several required sections and fields to complete here with your details, and so on.
Next, upload clear, legible electronic copies of supporting documents needed for the application, such as your business registration certificate or permit, comprehensive business plan, resumes/CVs of the business founders, bank account information, and a short one-minute video pitch.
Step 7: Describe Your Business Idea
This is arguably the most critical section of the entire application process because it requires you to convincingly and thoroughly describe your business model, target customers, revenue model, job creation potential, financial projections, and exactly how you will use the funding if awarded.
In essence, you need to articulate your overall business viability, growth prospects, purpose, and the concrete benefits it aims to deliver. This is your chance to sell your business idea and vision to the evaluators, so ensure you put your best foot forward.
Tips for Putting Together a Strong Application
Here are some valuable tips and strategies to help position your TEF Entrepreneurship programme application for stronger consideration and prospects of success:
- Clearly Articulate Your Business Idea: Concisely yet thoroughly describe your overall business model, product/service offerings, innovations, processes, and other factors that make your venture unique. Avoid ambiguity by outlining details and specifics.
- Provide Convincing Business Case: You need to build a compelling case describing how your business idea or model delivers more value than alternatives and solves a pressing problem or need in the market. Demonstrate why your offer is hard to replicate.
- Highlight Market Opportunity: Analyze and highlight pain points your target customers, clients, or market faces. Quantify the size of the problem. Show how your solutions fill an unmet need and tap into the opportunity.
- Describe Revenue Model: Clearly explain how your business earns income or will monetize and generate revenues. Outline existing and projected revenue streams and your overall financial sustainability model.
- Detail Growth Potential: Emphasize prospects, strategies, plans, and resources to ensure scalability and accelerated growth of your business going forward. Provide specifics.
- Explain Job Creation Impact: Quantify the number of jobs your business has already created to date. Project new direct and indirect jobs that your operations and future growth will generate as you scale.
- Outline Fund Utilization: Even if you do not yet have the funding, specify how exactly you plan to use and leverage the capital sought if awarded, and the expected outcomes.
Preparing Your Supporting Documents
The Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship programme application requires several key supporting documents to be submitted. Be sure to prepare these meticulously as they validate and supplement your application:
- Business Plan: Develop a comprehensive 1-page business plan highlighting your products/services, market analysis, business operations, marketing strategy, management team capabilities, 3-year financial projections, and planned utilization of funding if awarded.
- Financial Projections: Include past financial statements of your business, along with detailed profit/loss statements, cash flow projections, and financial forecasts for the next 3 years.
- Proof of Legal Registration: Attach registration certificates, licenses, permits, or other valid documentation that proves your business is properly registered and approved to operate in your country.
- Founders’ Resumes: Prepare professional resumes that outline the founders’ work experience, background, education, skills, achievements, and capabilities.
- Video and Photo Attachments: Record a 1-minute video pitch and share high-quality images of your business activities, products, processes, and team.
TEEP Key Dates and Deadlines
TEF comes up every year intending to elevate entrepreneurial mindset and their businesses across Africa. And like clockwork, they have the same timeline and deadlines every year. To stay organized and well-informed for the next cycle coming up in 2024, here are important schedules to keep in mind:
- Application Opens: The TEFConnect application portal officially opens around January 1st of each year on the official TEF site to start accepting applications for that annual cycle.
- Application Deadline: There is an annual deadline, usually March 31st, by which all applications must be formally submitted on TEFConnect. The portal closes at midnight WAT on this date. Adhere closely to the deadline as no late submissions are accepted.
- Announcement of Successful Applicants: Shortlisted applicants who have progressed to the next stage of evaluations and selection are notified around June or July each year via email.
- Training and Mentorship: Upon selection, funded entrepreneurs are required to participate in tailored intensive training workshops and mentorship sessions scheduled between July to December as part of the programme.
- Disbursement of Funds: Approved funding up to the amount of $10,000 is disbursed into the bank accounts of successful applicants before the end of each calendar year once all documentation is signed.
- Progress Update: Entrepreneurs who receive funding are expected to provide regular progress updates and statements on their fund utilization to TEF through bi-annual reports. This is imperative for transparency.
- Annual TEF Entrepreneurship Forum: All beneficiaries of the programme are invited to attend the flagship Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Forum held annually. This is the largest gathering of African entrepreneurs featuring networking, exhibits, panel discussions, and masterclasses.
How to Write a Winning a TEEP Proposal
Check out our expert guidance on writing a winning TEEP proposal. And don’t forget to download the free TEEP success stories from previous winners to learn how to make your application stand out.
TEEP Application FAQs
Who is eligible to apply for the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship programme?
The Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship programme is open to entrepreneurs across Africa who meet the eligibility criteria. Applicants must be African citizens living on the continent and the legal owners of a registered for-profit small business that has been operational for at least 1 year.
What makes a strong application for the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship programme?
A winning TEF application clearly articulates your business goals, viability, potential for impact, and sustainability. Quantify your business model with concrete data points and metrics demonstrating traction. Share your projected growth strategy and job creation ability.
Explain how you will leverage the seed funding responsibly to achieve scale and profitability. Showcase both your business acumen and your passion for driving economic empowerment and opportunity in Africa.
If my application is unsuccessful, can I reapply in the future?
Yes, applicants who are not selected are encouraged to reapply for the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship programme in subsequent years. Thoroughly review the feedback provided on your previous application and identify areas of improvement.
When and how is the funding disbursed if selected?
Announcement of final shortlisted applicants is made around mid-year. Once you formally accept the offer, the approved non-refundable seed capital of up to $5,000 is disbursed directly into your provided bank account before the end of the year.
What ongoing support does TEF provide beyond seed funding?
The Tony Elumelu Foundation provides extensive training, mentoring, market access, and networking support beyond the seed capital funding. There are opportunities to participate in bespoke workshops, accelerator programmes, and conferences to gain skills, knowledge, and exposure.
You will gain access to an esteemed mentor network and alumni community for guidance, partnerships, and collaboration. TEF also provides further funding opportunities through guarantees and loans to scale your business.
Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship programme Application: What Next?
The Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme is a big deal, so you should take the application process seriously. Follow the step-by-step instructions in this post and use the TEF application checklist to make sure you don’t miss anything.
Then, check out our next post to learn how to craft a winning TEEP proposal that stands out.
Use the expert tips to improve your chances of winning the grant and building your dream business.