The Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) is one of the largest private philanthropic organizations in the Africa. It was established in 2010 to encourage and empower entrepreneurs, promote thought leadership and create an integrated entrepreneurial ecosystem that drives African entrepreneurship. Since it was founded, the TEF has catalyzed the development of entrepreneurs and innovators in Africa. The annual TEF Entrepreneurship Programme which commits $100 million to training, mentoring and funding of 10,000 African entrepreneurs is the largest business plan competition on the continent.
The seeds that the TEF has sown through the programme are expected to transform the continent –through generating businesses with potential to contribute about $10 billion to stimulate the African economy.Parminder Vir is CEO of the Tony Elumelu Foundation. She joined the foundation in April 2014 as Director of Entrepreneurship. She is credited with designing the $100 million entrepreneurship initiative of the foundation. Through Training, mentoring, networking and funding for 10,000 entrepreneurs from Africa, the foundation selects 1000 applications. In 2015, the foundation received 20,000 applications. In 2016, this doubled to 45,000. Prior to joining the TEF, Vir had enjoyed a 20-year sterling career in film and television production in the United Kingdom working with the BBC Television, Carlton Television and Channel Four. She has also served on numerous boards including the UKTI Asia Task Force, UK India Business Council, Non-Executive Director of Goldcrest Films, Department for Culture, Media and Sports, the UK Film Council and The Indus Entrepreneurs UK. In 2002, she was awarded an Order of the British Empire (OBE) by Queen Elizabeth II for her services to the broadcasting and film industry. In this interview, Vir talks about her transition from the broadcasting and film industry, big philanthropy, and the extent of the foundation’s work with entrepreneurs across the continent.