The Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) hosted French President Emmanuel Macron in Lagos, Nigeria, last week, with over 2,000 TEF alumni given the chance to engage with the President on growing their businesses into European markets.
Macron spoke at an interactive session attended by nearly 2,000 TEF alumni, who sought his advice on how to grow their businesses, reach European markets amidst rising nationalism and emerging trade wars, as well as questioning him on the secrets of his political success.
At the event, Macron advocated a strengthened partnership between France and Africa, prioritising the role of entrepreneurship in driving Africa’s growth, and highlighting the importance of the private sector.
“To young African entrepreneurs: never listen to people who are telling you to wait. If you believe in your projects: just do it. Our role is to help the new generation to seize opportunities and rise to the challenge. This is what underpins a new, balanced relationship,” Macron said.
Tony Elumelu was also present at the event, which he moderated. Opening the event, Elumelu said the President’s attitude towards Africa is “refreshing”, and that his presence at the event in Lagos marks an important moment for the local entrepreneurship ecosystem.
“The French President recognises the critical importance of African entrepreneurs to sustainable economic development on the continent – he knows the African narrative is changing and will change. His voice is refreshing and welcome. We want France and the rest of the world to realise that Africa is a continent of opportunities,” Elumelu said.
At the event, TEF also signed an agreement with the Agence Française de Développement (AFD), to establish a research partnership to examine the entrepreneurship ecosystem in West Africa – with a special focus on francophone countries. The agreement also provides for a risk-sharing guarantee framework, and access to high-level mentors for TEF entrepreneurs.