Nigerian billionaire Tony Elumela has challenged 40 youthful aspiring entrepreneurs not to blame lack of capital for not starting business because their brains can suffice.
“True to what President Barack Obama told Kenyans the next big thing is Africa and the onus is upon you to seize the prevailing opportunities,” stressed Elumela.
“Banks are not going to drop their lending rates to suit your preference. See how best you can use their services.”
“You are the engines of growth,” stressed Elumela.
“Do not weep because you have no job, create jobs instead. God has endowed us with a good climate. By the way exploit the social media to tell your success story for others to emulate.”
Elumelu challenged governments in Africa to include entrepreneurship lessons in education. Through the Tony Elumelu entrepreneurship Programme (TEEP) he targets creating 10,000 startups across Africa in the next decade.
The CEO of Elumela Foundation, Perminder Vir, said the symposium at Serena Hotel Kampala is a follow up of 45 young entrepreneurs selected in different parts of Uganda to participate in a three-month boot camp in Lagos.
“Each walked away with $5000 which they had to invest and tell their own story,” said Perminder.
Challenged by Elumelu to tell their real life stories, the budding but ambitious investors were proof that there is so much untapped potential ranging from ICT, trade, agriculture and authors in the economy.
One benefactor had started a coffee shop in Kampala and expected to open ten others across the country. But Joel Cherope from Kapchorwa raised eyebrows of the participants with his tale.
“I embarked on onion farming with a vengeance,” revealed Cherope.
“I am using one acre of land but expect to become a millionaire soon. Instead of depending on rain I am applying irrigation.”
“The target is to exploit the resources in our midst to capacity,” said Cherope.
“The market is there and I expect to mint more than Shs500 million. I am selling the idea to the community I live amidst.”
“We want to abolish the service of middle men,” said Cherope. “Soon we will add value to our produce as President Museveni has always called upon the citizens.”
Cherope is one of the winners and a celebrated farmer profiled by Harvest money. He and other winners travelled to Netherlands, courtesy of Netherlands government and New Vision Group of Companies.
“It is before you travel that you take all you have for granted,” testified Cherope. “Given the soil, weather and manpower, poverty should become a luxury no Ugandan can afford today. Not after I saw farmers growing spices in water where there is no soil. It is time we stopped taking things for granted.”