(CNN)The African Development Bank (AfDB) and the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) have announced a new partnership that will expand support for youth entrepreneurship on the continent.
The partnership will create an additional 1,000 places on the flagship Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme (TEEP), bringing the total number of places to 3,050.
Participants in the program, launched by influential Nigerian entrepreneur Tony Elumelu in 2015, will receive access to seed funding, expert mentoring, and a 12-week business training program.
Competition for places has increased in the past year, according to figures from TEF. The Foundation received 216,000 applicants compared to 151,000 for 2018, with a record 90,000 female applicants.
The final list of 3,050 successful applicants was drawn from all 54 African countries.
Elumelu said that choosing the finalists was an “almost impossible task” and expressed confidence that TEEP participants would make an impact.
“Our entrepreneurs are hungry to effect change,” he said. “We know we are only scratching the surface, we see the depth of entrepreneurial talent, that all of us — government, business, indeed African society, must harness to transform our economies and livelihoods.”
“We must rally together to empower them and accelerate the change we want on the continent.”
“The partnership will bring about future collaboration focused on strengthening small to medium-sized enterprises, talent and skills development, and optimization initiatives for Africa’s youth,” said AfDB in a statement.
Elumelu is credited with coining the term “Africapitalism” to describe his belief “that the African private sector has the power to transform the continent through long-term investments, creating both economic prosperity and social wealth.”
One of the major challenges that TEEP seeks to address is youth unemployment and poverty.
According to the AfDB, more than 12 million young people enter the labor market each year, but just three million jobs are created, which contributes to a youth poverty rate of around 70 percent in sub-Saharan Africa.