On January 1, 2017, the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme portal will open and start receiving applications from entrepreneurs across Africa. That is the TEEP 2017 cycle. Yet, the event of March 22, 2016 is still fresh in our minds, being the day when the list of 1000 successful applicants was released. Tales of joy and sadness greeted the unveiling of the list of successful applicants for the 2016 TEEP cycle. For some who were successful, it was the best thing since sliced bread. However, for the over 23,000 applicants who weren’t, it was such a sad tale. Dashed hopes!
The time is almost here again for the 2017 Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme cycle and like the P5 principle says, proper preparation prevents poor performance. So, there is no better time to start preparing than now. Here are a few things you can do to ensure you get shortlisted. This is culled from some of the successful applicants over the past two years.
Start developing your business plan in good time: Imaobong Ekanem, MD/CEO, U&I Palm Enterprises and winner of the 2015 Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme award mentioned in an interview that besides God’s providence, early preparation was very critical to her success. She said starting the preparation on time gave her enough room to polish up her business plan and make it as competitive as the TEEP award demanded.
She advised prospective applicants to conduct thorough research about their proposed business venture and prepare their plans far ahead of time. That way, they would have enough time to thoroughly refine their submissions before finally hitting the submit button.
Be disruptively innovative in your business idea. TEEP hunts for businesses that can transform Africa. And obviously, it’s a highly innovative business that can best do that. Here, innovation goes beyond introducing ICT into your business. It demands a revolutionary perspective to product development or service delivery.
Remember, just like YOUWIN, TEEP seeks businesses that are most likely to thrive. Hence, it’s only a DISRUPTIVELY innovative idea that can most assuredly overcome the stiff competition and initial startup challenges. So, please think like the TEEP judges. Think innovation!
If possible, get your business registered. Although the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme is inclusive of entrepreneurs with just business ideas, there is some level of added credibility attached to businesses that are registered. It should be obvious to you that a business that is registered suggests a more serious and passionate entrepreneur.
Just like an investor would be more eager to invest in a registered business, so is TEEP. Registering and acquiring a business name is quite simple. But it could to some extent determine whether you are successful or not.
Build your business idea around the real sector. Although not stated explicitly, but records reveal that entrepreneurs involved in real sector, that is productive sector activities are more likely to get shortlisted than those involved in non-productive sectors. The idea here is that these sectors are the most likely to create wealth, expand employment and grow Africa’s GDP, all of which are the targets of the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme. Therefore, as a tip, consider sectors like agriculture, manufacturing, real estate and perhaps entertainment, ICT, education and healthcare.
Present believable figures. You might be tempted to try to impress the judges with extremely breath-taking sales figures and profit margins. But the honest fact is that you’ve got to be honest. By exaggerating figures, you’re simply telling the judges that you have no idea about the business or at best you didn’t carry out thorough research on the business feasibility. And your guess is as good as ever that nobody would want to look at your proposal a second time. Therefore, instead of the too-good-to-be-true figures, exaggerate expenditures and underestimate revenues. That’s how smart entrepreneurs roll.
Answer all relevant questions. Don’t make the work of the judges easier to your own detriment by leaving out some required information about you or your business. For a competition that receives over 24,000 entries with the hope of awarding just 1,000, your guess is as good as anything that leaving out required fields is too serious to be ignored. That is why early preparation is necessary, so that you can review your presentation over and over to avoid missing out on any requirements.
Contact Support where necessary. Don’t think anything will be overlooked. If you have any challenge while filling out the form, please contact support to get you some help. For instance, if there is a point in the application process where you’re expected to upload a photo and you’re unable to do it due to technical issues, please contact support immediately. They were hired for such purposes.
Don’t submit more than one entry. Yes, this is very important and can determine whether you get shortlisted or blacklisted. Some applicants think they can be smart enough to present more than one entry with different names and contact information. But the truth is, there are just too many tools that can reveal such multiple entries and TEEP deploys these tools in full. Therefore, just present one robust entry. Besides, why not invest the time and energy you spread out preparing these multiple entries into preparing one formidable and convincing entry. Remember that at the boot-camp, you can only represent one business interest.
Submit your application far ahead of the deadline. As a matter of principle, Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme gives quite a long time for prospective applicants to prepare and submit their applications. Please take advantage of this and submit long before the deadline. Please DON’T wait until 11:59PM on the deadline before hitting the submit button. You might get a submission error message. In fact, avoid the deadline because so many people will be submitting their applications on that day, hence, the site might be too congested, so much so that you might not be able to submit your application especially if your internet connectivity is not excellent.
Finally, ensure that your business plan or application document is not available to others until applications are closed. Otherwise, someone could sink your opportunity by submitting an identical plan in their name. Doing so will earn you both automatic disqualification. You don’t want your sweat and sleepless nights to be so ruined. Therefore, be very wary of those who have access to your written application.
There is no better time to start preparing for the 2017 Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme than now.
Good luck in your preparations!
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