The French President, Emmanuel Macron has had a feel of the Nigerian Spirit from his meeting with the President, Muhammadu Buhari yesterday, and a swell time of fun at the African Shrine later in the night, he had the opportunity to meet with the vibrant and energetic 2,000 Tony Elumelu Foundation entrepreneurs in an interactive session that was held earlier on Wednesday.
Macron offered a bold and new vision of France’s relationship with Africa, speaking to Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurs in Lagos today. He passionately advocated a new partnership, prioritizing the role of entrepreneurship in driving
Africa’s renaissance, highlighting the importance of the private sector and urging the creation of a business ecosystem that leverages Africa’s vibrant private sector and most importantly saying Africa’s future was and should be in Africa’s hands.
“When you are a Nigerian entrepreneur, you have a big advantage, your market is huge. And if you don’t get access to the market, I am sorry to be blunt, but it’s the story of your politicians. I mean, that’s the job of your government!
” The concentration of wealth in the top 1% of the population and in Europe and the U.S., the Western world, some felt like the potential victim of globalization were the middle-class.
“Africa is the one to decide for Africa, to explain about Africa, to create its own model of entrepreneurship, on its own culture and to explain it to the rest of the world.
“Nobody has to decide for our future, we are the ones to decide. Nobody has to lecture us, which means we are to take responsibility.
“Guess what, even when I tried to get some advice from the insiders of the game, the first advice was, ‘you should wait a little bit, wait a little bit. At a point in time, it will be for you, not now!’ Never follow this sort of advice.
“If you want to do it, if you want to change this world, if you want to change your country, if you believe in your innovation, yin your project, just make it visible, create, dare and do it right now. That’s the answer for this continent.
“If Africa doesn’t succeed, Europe will not succeed in the long run because if Africa doesn’t succeed, France & Europe will never succeed. For 2 very simple reasons; Europe is not an island and this migration is exactly because we have a common destiny.
“When u fail, it’s not so important. I failed a lot of times… in different fields. I didn’t want to become a politician. I didn’t want to be president…thing is, I learned from my failures and because too many people told me it was impossible now they are using this to manipulate the society. Which means that we have to fix the issue. I have my strategies for these issues but the strategy is NOT to build a wall”, he told the gathering.
Concluding the event, the Tony Elumelu Foundation signed an agreement with the Agence Française de Développement (AFD), the French development bank. The agreement established a research partnership to examine the entrepreneurship ecosystem in West Africa, with a special focus on francophone countries, a risk-sharing guarantee framework and access to high-level mentors for TEF entrepreneurs.
The young people in attendance included beneficiaries of various Foundation programmes, including the groundbreaking TEF Entrepreneurship Programme – the Founder’s $100 million commitment to identify, train, mentor and fund 10,000 entrepreneurs from across Africa over 10 years.
Video of the session is available at http://www.tonyelumelufoundation.org/news/interactivesession-with-president-emmanuel-macron-and-tony-elumelu-entrepreneurs/