The U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker on Monday addressed Nigerian business leaders at an event hosted in the auspices of TEEP, the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme. The event, organised by the Tony Elumelu Foundation and the United Bank for Africa titled “Unleashing Africa’s Entrepreneurs: Strengthening the Entrepreneurial Ecosystem to Empower the Next Generation of Africa’s Business Leaders.” The President’s Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa (PAC-DBIA) members were in attendance along with local entrepreneurs representing diverse sectors including agriculture, media and entertainment, transportation, healthcare, and financial services. The Tony Elumelu Foundation is a nonprofit organization that ensures entrepreneurs in Africa have access to the mentorship, training, and support they need to build better businesses.
During her remarks, Secretary Pritzker highlighted how the American private sector, working in partnership with the African business community and entrepreneurs, can help address many of the continent’s most pressing challenges, including creating jobs and opportunity for young people across the continent. As “America’s Innovation Agency,” the Secretary leads the Department of Commerce’s entrepreneurship efforts around the world, helping to connect the world’s next generation of entrepreneurs with the networks, mentors, and investors they need to make their businesses successful.
Following her remarks, Secretary Pritzker moderated a panel discussion with four of the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme (TEEP) Fellows. The TEEP is a 10-year, $100 million commitment by the Tony Elumelu Foundation to empower the next generation of Africa’s entrepreneurs with businesses that have the potential to generate income and jobs for their nations. PAC-DBIA members were then able to participate in direct and substantive discussions with Africa’s emerging leaders and discuss the opportunities and challenges businesses face in the region.
“President Obama and I are convinced that the American private sector, working in partnership with the African business community, can help address some of the continent’s most pressing challenges, including building modern infrastructure, creating jobs and opportunity for young people, and expanding access to education and the Internet,” said Secretary Pritzker. “When we think about the economic potential of countries across Africa—and Nigeria is absolutely at the top of that list—the imperative that we all face is to promote economic growth and opportunity at home, and deepening our mutually beneficial ties of trade and commerce is not just a nice to have, it is a must-have for all of us.”
During the trip, the PAC-DBIA members would gather facts about the commercial opportunities and challenges in Nigeria and report back to President Obama with strong and actionable recommendations, and develop policy ideas that will benefit both countries.