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connectnigeria-the-tony-elumelu-foundation The preceding month has been such a great one for the Tony Elumelu Foundation. The Elumelu  Nigeria Empowerment Fund, a non-profit organisation managed by the foundation, was launched recently. This is in addition to celebrating four years of  impressive philanthropic work being done by the foundation. The organisation will empower and revitalise communities in Nigeria affected by natural disaster  and conflict across Nigeria. The Elumelu Nigeria Empowerment Fund will become fully operational in 2015. The fund hopes to make the communities it will serve economically sustainable by giving them access to start-up funding and building their capacities to create a platform for a thriving entrepreneurial environment. Here are some things you need to know about the Nigerian Empowerment Fund: 1. Access                                                   It depends on the selected community and its needs. Following a needs assessment, the fund will decide whether it should pursue the project on its own or seek an external partner, which can be a local community group, or a national or international development organization. In the latter scenario, the fund will be putting up a call for proposals. 2. Priority sectors Projects can range from tackling environmental and social welfare issues, to rebuilding or reviving broken infrastructure. However, the bulk of the funds will centre on entrepreneurship, whether building an enabling environment that would allow entrepreneurs to operate or providing them with start-up capital to get their business to take off. The fund will not be doing emergency response or support immediate post emergency work. 3. How it will operate At present, the fund will only work in specific communities in Nigeria; those that have emerged from conflict or disaster but continue to experience slow development progress and economic difficulties like in the Niger Delta, although communities are still being selected in the current phase. The foundation chief said there are plans to expand outside the country, but at present they aim to “test and refine the model in Nigeria.” 4. Types of support the fund will provide The fund plans to operate in the long term and be self-sustaining over the next couple of years instead of relying on donations and contributions, and will therefore focus on giving grants as well as impact investments. “If we make an impact investment in an entrepreneur in a business in these communities, then that would become sort of asset for the fund,” Boer, the CEO of the fund explained. This strategy is closely linked to the Foundation’s approach to give grants to start-ups that tackle particular development challenges through technology and invest in select businesses operating in Africa that educate about impact investing and create opportunities for budding entrepreneurs. 5. Other assistance In November, the foundation plans to announce a new programme that will provide mentorship, networking opportunities and training to entrepreneurs to help them become “better business leaders,” Boer said. This is in line with Tony O. Elumelu’s vision to support African entrepreneurship, but at the same time complements the fund’s technical capacity building activities. “We use what’s done really well in one part of the foundation to kind of benefit what’s done elsewhere,” he added. 6. How the fund will determine if objectives are being met The fund will put in place proper monitoring and evaluation measures over time. “We’ll be monitoring and so on according to what the baseline was, or the community needs, or when we started, and then see how progress has been done against that,” Boer noted. “[And] because [we may be doing] some of our own projects, it’s better not to be auditing ourselves. So we’re going to seek external expertise in this area to kind of help with that, and make sure everything is being delivered at the highest standard of excellence as possible,” he added. 7. Independence At the launch of the organisation, the Elumelu Nigeria Empowerment Fund received a generous 250 million naira ($1.5 million) donation from President Goodluck Jonathan, who is running for re-election in February.  

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This article was first published on 20th November 2014

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