When Brenda Amongin first started her online shop selling African art and crafts, she struggled to raise capital to grow the business. "I used my savings to buy materials but the money was not enough," says Amongin, the founder of the online retail shop, Amayomart.com
But in 2016, having competed with thousands of other upcoming entrepreneurs, Amongin's business idea was one of those that won up to $5,000 in seed capital to help make her business idea a reality.
The funding was from the $100 million pan-African entrepreneurship programme under the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF). It hopes to train, mentor and offer financial support to least 10,000 African entrepreneurs over a 10-year period, ending 2024.
On a continent where many young and upcoming entrepreneurs complain about the lack of capital, young Africans are looking for such opportunities to jumpstart their businesses.
"Without this funding, it would have been more difficult to get where I am today because we are not only given money, we also benefit from mentoring on how to succeed in the business," says Amongin.
She needed the extra capital to buy raw materials, build an appealing website and market the products online.
Since its launch across Africa in 2015, the TEF has offered start-up grants to about 3,000 entrepreneurs.
In Uganda, 190 entrepreneurs have won grants for their start-ups in various sectors including agriculture, education, fashion or design, ICT, healthcare, financial services, media, entertainment, tourism and hospitality.
"When we launched the TEF, I never imagined an impact of this magnitude. We have unleashed a movement of African entrepreneurs that will collectively transform Africa, said Tony Elumelu, the chair of the foundation and founder of the United Bank of Africa as he launched the fourth edition of the programme.
Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, Ghana and Cameroon have seen the highest number of applications for funding.