Check out our expert tips and advice on how to write a winning Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Program proposal. And don’t forget to download the free TEEP success stories from previous winners to learn how to put your best foot forward and make your application stand out.
Winning a TEEP grant is no walk in the park.
Over 200,000 apply annually, but only around 5,000 are selected. That’s why, in this guide, we will provide the insights you need to craft a winning TEEP submission.
We will walk you through exactly what reviewers look for so you can tailor each section to showcase your qualifications. By the end, you’ll be equipped to develop a polished proposal that brings your entrepreneurial vision to life.
Recommended For You: Learn everything you need to know about applying for the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme, writing a stand out proposal, and winning the $5,000 grant. We even included a TEEP application checklist to help you stay on track. Start Your Journey Now
As Tony Elumelu himself said, “The future of Africa is in our hands, let us dream big and act big.” Let’s put it in your hands, starting with a winning proposal.
Here, you’ll learn:
Key Takeaways (Editor’s Picks)
- Thousands apply annually but only around 5% are selected, so crafting a strong proposal is critical.
- Research TEF’s criteria and showcase how your business aligns with its goals of creating jobs and social impact.
- The proposal should compellingly demonstrate your problem, solution, business model, team, and projected outcomes.
- Quantify details with facts and data to reinforce points. Follow instructions closely.
- Highlight accomplishments and traction that establish credibility. Letters of support also help.
- Logically structure sections and edit extensively to polish the proposal.
- The cover letter makes a vital first impression so keep it professional yet personable.
- Participating in TEF training and networks can catalyze growth, so develop the best proposal possible.
- Even if not selected, the process helps strengthen your business plan and hone your pitch.
- Use the preparation to build partnerships, refine your model, and progress toward your vision.
- Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme: Everything You Need to Know
- How to apply for the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme
- How to Hire the Best Business Grant Writer in Nigeria
Secure Your Dream Business Funding
Standing out in the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme 2024 is NOW easier than ever. Get this playbook to learn how to apply and write a TEEP grant proposal that can win the non-returnable $5,000 seed capital.
Before You Start: Understanding the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Program
To create a strong proposal, you must first understand the core goals and priorities of the TEF program. The foundation launched this initiative in 2015 to empower African entrepreneurs to grow their businesses, create jobs, and improve lives across the continent.
They provide seed capital, mentoring, training and other support to early-stage entrepreneurs with innovative solutions that align with their mission of fostering economic prosperity in Africa.
Some key criteria the selection committee looks for include:
- Feasible business ideas with strong growth potential
- Unique innovations that address social needs
- Leadership ability and entrepreneurial drive
- Commitment to creating jobs and social impact
So, if your business checks all these boxes, it’s time to show it off to the TEF team in the best possible light.
Some Inspiring TEF Success Stories
Over the years, the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Program has empowered thousands of African entrepreneurs to achieve remarkable growth. Here are just two uplifting examples of businesses scaled and lives changed with TEF’s support.
1. Mohamed Dhaouafi Giving Second Chance to Amputees Via Solar-Powered Prosthetics
Mohamed Dhaouafi was inspired to launch his company CURE after witnessing a close friend’s cousin struggling to navigate life without limbs. Born without upper limbs and unable to afford prosthetics, this harsh reality motivated Mohamed’s research into improving accessibility.
As a 2017 Tony Elumelu Foundation alumnus from Tunisia, Mohamed is developing 3D-printed, solar-powered bionic hands to empower amputees.
CURE aims to help amputees, especially youth, live life to the fullest despite physical challenges. Mohamed established two core programs: affordable 3D-printed bionic hands tailored to each patient, and disruptive rehabilitation solutions leveraging virtual reality.
He is addressing the 30 million amputees in poor countries lacking prosthetic access.
Mohamed is filling a longstanding global gap – only 5% of amputees in poor countries can access prosthetics. TEF empowered his goal to transform disabilities into possibilities. CURE hands will enable amputees to live, work, and thrive freely.
Mohamed’s innovation epitomizes the Foundation’s spirit of entrepreneurship uplifting lives.
2. How TEF Transformed a Struggling Agribusiness That’s Now Making Waves
When Nicholas Alifa first started his agribusiness Ajaoko Agritech in Nigeria, he struggled big time with the money side of things.
After recklessly blowing through his initial seed money, he nearly threw in the towel altogether. But everything changed when he got picked for the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Program in 2018.
The intense 12-week TEF training opened Nicholas’ eyes to things like keeping business finances separate from personal, the importance of record keeping, customer-focused marketing tactics, and running lean operations.
Armed with these new business smarts, Nicholas tailored services to what customers needed, optimized advertising spending, and cut redundant staff.
Before TEF, Ajaoko Agritech was only pulling in 500,000 naira annually. But after the training, revenues jumped to 800,000 naira. The workforce grew from 3 to 8 employees too. TEF’s funding and training empowered this entrepreneur to get over those hurdles and turn a profit.
TEEP Success Stories
Let these success stories from previous TEEP participants inspire you to put your best into your proposal and clinch a spot in the next cycle!
Now, Here’s How to Write a Winning TEEP Proposal
To have a shot at winning over the selective reviewers, your proposal must compellingly align with TEF’s core goals and priorities in each of the following sections.
Add these sections to your proposal to cover all grounds and stand out.
The executive summary is the section where you briefly introduce your business and summarise the key details of your proposal. The word here is ‘summarise’, so succinctly give a brief intro and explain the problem you’re solving, your innovative solution, and projected outcomes.
To craft an effective executive summary in a grant proposal, we suggest breaking it down into three key paragraphs.
The first paragraph should open with a mission statement encapsulating your organization’s identity and work.
Your second paragraph should provide context by naming your business’ goals, and summarizing growth and impact since inception. This is where you articulate your current funding needs and how this will advance the work.
Finally, use the third paragraph to quantify your business’s impact through data and statistics that prove you have made a measurable difference for your target population.
Here’s a sample:
Use the problem/need statement section to explain the specific problem or unmet market needs your company aims to address. Here, you will provide concrete statistics, data, or real-world examples to quantify the size and urgent importance of this problem.
For instance, you may cite relevant market research reports, demographic data, news articles, or interviews with affected groups to demonstrate pain points.
Aim to help reviewers grasp the widespread nature of the issue through persuasive facts. Dive into how severely and specifically this problem impacts your target customers and community. You can also use this section to explain why existing solutions fail to adequately address the problem.
Provide evidence that current options are insufficient through statistics, quotes, or scenarios.
Position your company as offering a better solution optimized to fill these unmet needs. The more effectively you articulate the problem’s significance, the stronger case you can build for your venture’s necessity and impact potential.
After demonstrating an important problem, you need to persuade reviewers that your solution has merit. Succinctly explain your proposed product, service, or initiative. Describe how it works to tackle the stated problem and detail its unique features or intellectual property.
Provide just enough technical details to convey innovation while remaining understandable to a general audience.
Share any evidence you have to demonstrate the feasibility of your idea, such as results from prototypes, pilots, beta tests, or market research. Use data and metrics to reinforce advantages over existing options.
The organization information section enables you to establish credibility by showcasing your company’s track record. Provide a brief history of your company, including the founding date, location, leadership team, number of employees, and overall vision.
Here, you describe your current operations and infrastructure, such as production facilities, technology platforms, and distribution systems. Next, summarise past financial performance and current financial position using key metrics like revenue, profit, and cash balances, and highlight them to reinforce your qualifications.
This establishes your company as an investable venture with a foundation primed for the proposed expansion or initiative. Proving your execution ability is key to winning over reviewers.
Business Model and Strategy
To complement your solution description, the TEF selection panel will assess your business model’s viability. Concisely describe your core revenue streams and pricing structure. Explain how you generate income from each customer segment. Share key assumptions underlying your projections.
Summarize your operations model, including where and how you’ll produce your solution cost-efficiently at scale. Provide details on distribution, logistics, and partnerships instrumental to scaling up delivery. Outline any cost advantages, intellectual property, or other strategic assets that secure your competitive edge.
Marketing and Sales Plan
A clear marketing and sales strategy is vital for demonstrating your path to commercial success. First, concisely profile your target customers and the specific needs your business addresses for them. Quantify the size of your total addressable market using relevant statistics.
In this section, you need to:
- Summarise how you’ll promote your solution and acquire customers within your target segments.
- Explain how your distribution and sales system will function across relevant geographic regions, channels, or business sizes you plan to serve.
- Project how your marketing strategy will evolve based on data and customer feedback to continually refine positioning, messaging, and lead generation.
Demonstrating savvy marketing and a customer-centric focus can help your credibility and impress the TEF team.
Team and Partnerships
Share any other human capital advantages like seasoned managers or engineers you’ll recruit if funded. Demonstrate you have both business builders and technical experts to strategically scale.
Next, summarize any partnerships, networks, or supporters providing resources your venture leverages. Namedrop respected investors, brands, or influencers affiliated with your company. Discuss university, government, or corporate partnerships enabling growth.
The selection committee will scrutinize your project budget to evaluate funding necessity and allocation rationale. Provide an itemized budget clearly outlining the full funding amount requested from TEF. Organize expenses into logical categories like personnel, production, inventory, equipment, marketing, professional services, and overhead.
For each line item, specify the costs covered and metrics used to estimate costs. Some examples are:
- Salaries based on comparable market rates for key hires
- Manufacturing costs per unit from supplier quotes
- Digital ads’ daily budget based on target audience size
Include enough detail to justify each budget allocation. Demonstrate thoughtful consideration of the investments required to execute your project. While TEF may not fund your entire request, the rigour of your budget lends credibility.
Lastly, summarise your projected impact in terms of customers reached, revenue, and jobs based on the requested budget. Quantify how TEF funding will exponentially accelerate your venture’s success.
Back your request with well-researched, clearly presented figures.
Potential Challenges and Risks
You may be wondering, ‘Why include a section about my challenges’?
Well, every business faces obstacles on its growth journey – and the TEF review team is aware of this. So use this section to demonstrate self-awareness by briefly discussing foreseeable challenges for your venture and planned mitigation strategies.
First, identify 2-3 main risks or threats most relevant to your business, such as:
- Competitors copying your offerings
- Challenges acquiring talent with required skills
- Potential changes to regulations or industry standards
Without downplaying your strengths, acknowledge these real issues investors consider. Then highlight your risk mitigation plans. For example, you may discuss:
- Ongoing innovation to stay ahead of competitors
- Partnerships with universities/training programs to develop talent pipelines
- Proactively engaging policymakers in shaping relevant regulations
Present yourself as a thoughtful leader who proactively assesses risks, rather than an overly optimistic entrepreneur. Share contingency plans while maintaining a confident tone focused on your competitive advantages.
Additionally, briefly note any challenges you’ve already overcome as a company. Describing your resilience and adaptability further equips reviewers to evaluate your potential.
Supplementary documents reinforce key claims in your proposal to build a complete, credible picture of your venture.
Relevant examples may include:
- Financial statements demonstrating traction and responsible management.
- Bios of your leadership team evidencing their qualifications.
- Letters of support from partners, early customers, community leaders, or investors.
- Market research reports proving the need for your product.
- Awards, patents, or press features validating your reputation.
- Pictures/diagrams showing your product, facilities, or operations.
Carefully curate documents that serve as compelling proof points. Favour quality over quantity, including only your strongest evidence directly backing proposal claims.
A thoughtful, engaging cover letter provides the perfect gateway into your proposal content. Make a strong first impression to grab reviewer interest. Although brief, your cover letter provides a critical first impression. Use these key tips to make your letter memorable:
- Address the letter to the Director of TEF or the selection committee.
- Open with a sentence introducing yourself and your company. capture attention by mentioning a notable achievement.
- Briefly explain why you are applying and how your company fits the program’s vision in 1-2 sentences. Avoid repetition from the proposal itself.
- Spotlight 1-2 of your most differentiating strengths or qualifications to stand out from other applicants.
- Close by expressing appreciation for consideration and enthusiasm to contribute to TEF’s entrepreneurial community if selected.
- Keep paragraphs concise at 1-3 sentences each. Let your full proposal provide details.
- Proofread meticulously. The tone should sound professional yet personable.
- Sign your full name and include contact information below your signature.
For an example of how a cover letter should look like, check out our previous article on how to write a winning grant proposal.
Tips for a Winning TEF Proposal
You do not just want to write a proposal for writing sake. Beyond strong content, a few key strategies can further boost your chances of success:
- Establish credibility by highlighting your team’s experience, accomplishments, awards, press features, etc.
- Secure letters of support from partners and influencers in your field.
- Logically organise sections and use clear headings. Make it easy to navigate.
- Keep language crisp, clear, and free of technical jargon. Define any acronyms.
- Quantify details with facts, figures, examples, and data to reinforce points.
- Proofread extensively. Ensure there are no typos or grammar errors that undermine your professionalism.
What’s the Best Way to Understand What TEF Wants in the Entrepreneurship Program?
We advise immersing yourself in researching TEF’s website, profiles of past entrepreneurs and alumni, press releases, and application details.
Studying these closely will allow you to grasp their core mission, values, and top criteria for choosing applicants. Do your homework so you can make sure your proposal tightly aligns with what they look for.
Can I Submit My Existing Business Plan?
You may draw from your business plan but adapt the content to directly address TEF’s proposal criteria. Follow the outline in this guide and align with TEF’s goals and priorities rather than repurposing the full business plan.
My Business Is Awesome, but How Can I Make My TEF Proposal Stand Out from Thousands of Others?
First, hook them with an engaging executive summary that captures your passion. Spotlight a particularly compelling problem your business will solve. Include impressive metrics that showcase your traction.
And convey your leadership potential in a way that leaps off the page. Anything unique about your solutions, skills, or style helps you rise above the crowd.
What’s the Best Strategy for the Cover Letter So It Wows?
The cover letter makes that critical first impression. Make sure it’s professional yet personal. Briefly explain why you’re a fantastic fit for TEF’s mission. And highlight 1-2 stellar accomplishments or qualifications upfront that will grab their interest.
How Can I Get Great Feedback to Improve My TEF Proposal?
Ask sharp, objective friends or mentors in business to review your full proposal critically. Or consider hiring a pro grant writer to critique and strengthen your draft. Embrace constructive criticism so you can refine your proposal to be as competitive as possible.
After Submitting Your TEEP Proposal, What Next?
Writing your proposal is just the first step on the exciting TEF journey.
If you’re selected, you’ll get to participate in an intensive 12-week training program and receive expert guidance to turn your idea into reality. Winners become part of an esteemed alumni network of young African entrepreneurs who are making a real difference.
With focus and perseverance, your entrepreneurial dreams can become a reality. Let your idea ignite positive change in your community and beyond. And don’t forget to check out these TEF Entrepreneurship Program success stories to stay inspired.