The French President Emmanuel Macron has thrown his weight behind the growth and development of the African continent, stating that other developed countries, such as Europe and France can only be said to truly succeed when the African continent does.
Macron, stated this during an interactive session with over 2000 African entrepreneurs, hosted by the Tony Elumelu Foundation, in Lagos on Wednesday. The event which was hosted and moderated by the Chairman, United Bank for Africa Plc, and Founder, TEF, Mr. Tony Elumelu, also had in attendance key stakeholders, policy makers and business moguls from the continent.
Advising the participants to engage in meaningful collaborations that will work towards changing the African narrative, the French President, said, “I want us to build a Nigerian narrative in the area of entrepreneurship, economy, culture and sports. Nobody has to decide our future, we decide it. Nobody has to lecture us, we have to take the responsibility. Have a vision. If you think for yourself that being a Nigeria won’t help you succeed, then you won’t.
“Africa has to create its own model of entrepreneurship and explain it to the world. The new narrative has to be built now. If Africa doesn’t succeed, France and Europe won’t succeed,” the French President noted.
The highpoint of the event, was the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the French government and the TEF. It involves a $10million risk guarantee scheme in conjunction with the United Bank for Africa.
The agreement which was signed by representatives of both institutions, covers a research partnership to examine the entrepreneurship ecosystem in West Africa with special focus on francophone countries, and access to high-level mentors for the entrepreneurs.
Macron also called on the small and medium scale entrepreneurs in Africa to focus on ensuring that failure doesn’t deter them from moving forward, adding that “There is no cap for innovation, the only limit is your mind. Take your risk. There is no success without risk, if you want to be a leader, if you want to create, you have to be a risk taker. Never stop at the first failure, always learn from your own failure. Our job is to reduce cost of failure. Have a vision. If you think for yourself that being a Nigeria won’t help you succeed, then you won’t,” he said.
Elumelu, who took the stage with Macron, corroborated his charge to the young leaders, adding “We have the solution to our problems, sharing your failures are great, but your lessons after the experience are what drive your success. Entrepreneurship is the lifeblood of Africa’s transformation. We are not defined by account balance but by the kind of impact we make and legacy we leave behind.
Continuing, Elumelu said, “We are grateful for the historic event today, as you may be aware, the French president is here in Nigeria to demonstrate his love for entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship. We have here a politician that believes in you, your dreams and ambition, he is not new to entrepreneurship. He is aware of your yearnings, ambitions and dreams.”
The Chief Executive Officer of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, Mrs. Parminder Vir, who welcomed the TEF entrepreneurs to the event noted that it is the start of an amazing relationship between France and Nigeria, which will culminate into the building of a sustainable ecosystem for African entrepreneurship.