How to win the $5,000 Tony Elumelu Grant in 2022 (Updated!)

Ogunbowale Olugbenga
10 min readJan 12, 2020


Who wants to be a millionaire?

From January 1 to March 31, entrepreneurs like you with an exciting business or idea, can apply to win $5,000 and training all thanks to the Tony Elumelu Foundation.

Just like the application process in 2021, this year’s TEF application is a combination of psychometric & personality tests in addition to business and financial knowledge assessment. Not to scare you but it’s a bit like GMAT and IELTS with a 45 mins clock counting down every sec. But I get ahead of myself.

This 100% free guide is even better than the one I wrote in 2020. I am literally going to guide you through the registration process, then to the psychometric, personality & financial knowledge assessment and then do a recap of the entire structure of the program.

Why am I qualified to write this?

1. I have a B.Sc. in Psychology

2. I am a 2017 Tony Elumelu fellow

3. I guided over 20 people to become fellows

4. I co-founded Grant Master in 2020, a service that connects organizations in need of grants with the top 5% of grant writers

5. Grant Master has onboarded top grant writers who have won $4.6M in grants

6. Grant Master won the Anzisha prize as well as the Bangabandhu Innovation Grant in 2021

With my credentials out of the way, let’s get down to business.

Unlike previous cohorts, your journey to $5,000 looks like this

How to win $5,000 Tony Elumelu Grant

I wrote this guide with 2 categories of people in mind

1. Folks who applied last year but did not get in

2. Folks who are applying for the very first time

Category 1:

If you already have a tefconnect account (meaning you applied last year but did not get in), simply log in using your log in details. Continue from where you stopped last year.

Category 2:

If you are applying for the first time:

  • REGISTER HERE and fill in your First Name, Last Name, email address and select a password. Tick the box to Accept our Data Collection Clause & Privacy Policy and Click on “Join TEFConnect Now” button
    • You will receive an email verification link (sent to your provided email address). Click on the CONFIRM EMAIL button.
    • It will lead you back to a landing page to SIGN IN with your selected email and password details.
    • Select the profile you would like to be registered as i.e., Entrepreneur, Mentor, or Investor/Partner…… (note to be eligible to apply, you need to be registered as an Entrepreneur)
    • Set up your profile on the platform and click on “SAVE & CONTINUE”.
    • This action will lead you to the home page. Click on “PROGRAMMES” at the top of the page. You can also change your language here.
    • Click APPLY on the TEF 2021 Programme.

Glossary of Key terms In The Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme

It’s a really long list but I have done the heavy lifting for you. Here’s what you need to know:

“Buffer List”

means the list of Programme Participants who have been scored/ranked closest to the Selected Entrepreneurs;



means an ongoing endeavour for profit carried on for no more than five (5) years as at the time of Application, whether registered as a company, sole proprietorship, partnership or other legal entity incorporated or registered in Africa and carrying on business and operating in Africa, with an African (or Africans together) owning directly/indirectly more than 50% of the voting or ownership rights in the same;


“Seed Capital”

means the funding made available to only Selected Entrepreneurs. The first stage is a non-returnable investment of the local currency equivalent of $5,000 (based on the Central Bank of Nigeria exchange rate as at the date of selection), which is paid into the Business Bank Account of Selected Entrepreneurs; the second stage is a returnable investment, which entrepreneurs will apply for and be considered for based on the viability of their business;


“Selected Entrepreneurs”

means Programme Participants who are selected from the Pitching Competition to receive the Seed Capital;


“Unsuccessful Applicants”

means Applicants who are not accepted to participate in any stage of the Programme.

Application Process

When you take the online assessment, you will either be successful or unsuccessful.

Successful applicants will be categorised into one of the following categories:

a. Start-Up,

b. Innovator,

c. Disruptor

Unsuccessful Applicants will be categorised as Preparatory and will be directed to take the Free Startup Enterprise Toolkit on TEFConnect and will be eligible to reapply for other TEF Programmes.

The entire program looks like this:

Verification & Onboarding

Successful Applicants will have to be verified and onboarded. Verification will run for the duration of the Startup Enterprise Toolkit™. Successful Applicants who do not meet the verification requirements will be removed from the Programme and notified of removal via email.



Programme Participants will have access to a Mentor to provide guidance and support to them during the Programme.


Business Training

Once Successful Applicants are onboarded, they proceed to the training stage. The Startup Enterprise Toolkit™ will run for a period of 12 weeks. Upon completion of the last week of Startup Enterprise Toolkit™ Programme Participants will be assessed and top scoring Programme Participants will proceed to the Business Plan preparation stage.


Business Plan Preparation & Submission

Programme Participants shortlisted from the business training stage will be given 2 weeks to develop and submit a business plan (more like a 3-page concept note) via TEFConnect for review and assessment, based on relevant metrics including feasibility and sustainability.


Pitching Competition

Top scoring Programme Participants shortlisted from the business plan stage will participate in the Pitching Competition where they will pitch their business plans to a panel of judges.


Seed Capital

The Selected Entrepreneurs from the Pitching Competition will be announced on the Foundation’s website and also notified via email.


It’s time to move to the business end of things…

The online application

It has four parts:

(1) Personal Information

(2) Business Information

(3) Cognitive Assessment

(4) Declaration

ONE: Personal Information

Asides other basic bio-data like questions, you will be required to upload a form of ID (international passport, driver’s license, Residency or Citizen’s Card, Voters Card, Tax ID). Please have your chosen form of ID scanned and ready for upload in .pdf, .jpeg, .jpg, .png, .gif or .doc format before you begin. The portal rejects heavy files (2MB and above). I had to compress mine to 200kb before it was accepted.

Ensure that your personal information matches the information on your government-approved ID card provided and attach all requested documents (valid identity card and photo headshot).

TWO: Business Information

Tell us about your business idea ?*

Give a little description of your startup idea (or ideas). If you do not have a business idea, then describe an industry or customer problem that you might want to build a business around (minimum 50 characters)

To answer this question, I suggest you deploy your elevator pitch in one or two sentences. Here is what this looks like:

Nothing is more frustrating than having a brilliant idea but no money to start a business. Lack of financial capital is the single biggest challenge facing African entrepreneurs according to the world bank.

This is why Grant Master connects ambitious organizations in need of debt-free and equity-free funding with the top 5% of Grant Writers. We’ll match you with a vetted veteran grant writer in under 24 hours. Our grant writers have raised $4.5M in grants.

How many years of business start-up experience do you have (this can be trading or anything)?

It’s a dropdown. Just select the appropriate option here.

Is your idea in your field of experience? (Yes/No)

The idea answer here is yes. It makes sense to work on an idea where you have experience. Tony Elumelu Foundation is not about to flush money down the drain.

The remaining questions in this section are mostly Yes/No

· Age of business?

· Are working with a team?

· How many people are in your team( excluding you)?

· How many hours are you working on your idea per week?

· Are you currently making some revenue from your idea?

· If yes, how much are you currently making per month($)?

· Do you have any business partners?

· Do you have your business partner’s consent to take part in this program?

· Is your business in a rural area?

THREE: Cognitive Assessment

It’s divided into 2 parts:

1. Personality questions

2. Financial and Business Acumen Questions.

This is a timed assessment. You have 45mins to complete both sections.

ONE: Personality Assessment

Here, you have questions like:

“I can easily guess what others are thinking”

“I prefer working on realistic ideas”

“I prefer being with people who hold similar values”

Here are 4 tips to help you pass the personality test


1) Be yourself

A personality test is a two-way assessment. The purpose of this particular test is to assess whether your personality is suitable for entrepreneurship. If you don’t have entrepreneurial DNA, you probably should not be applying in the first place.


2) Avoid extreme answers

Selecting highly agree or highly disagree in every response may bracket you as inflexible and robotic.


3) Answer questions with an ethical and professional mindset

Try to avoid selecting answers which could portray you as an unethical or unprofessional person. There are incorrect answers in personality tests and choosing an answer that is unethical or unprofessional is likely to be incorrect.

For instance, for a question like “if you win a $5,000 grant, what will you do with it?”, an answer like “I will travel to Dubai” is most definitely the wrong answer.


4) Mind the time

Keep one eye on your stopwatch as you take the test. The only thing worse than not taking the test is ending halfway.

To further help you pass the test, here are 5 personality traits identified to be compatible with a prosperous entrepreneurial career:

1) Achievement Striving

This is an individual’s intrinsic motivation and efficiency of work completion. Entrepreneurs will usually be responsible for their own work hours and set their own deadlines meaning it would be easy to underachieve if they lack initiative, as there is no one to answer to when tasks are not completed.


2) Industriousness

This is considered to be an indicator of levels of persistence and hardiness, the ability to overcome difficulties and to remain functional in stressful situations. It can also convey willingness to work hard and to offer additional efforts when required. Due to number of challenges and disappointments associated with building a successful business from the ground, it is important that the individual is able to persevere with various efforts or attempts in order to achieve success.


3) Passion

This refers to one’s enthusiasm, personal commitment to achieving goals and extent to which they will go in order to get ahead. More often than not, those who possess an emotional affinity with their career of choice are more likely to succeed.


4) Taking Control

This is linked to how far the individual believes themselves to have control over a situation and its outcomes, thus affecting their perception of positive and negative events. This idea originated from the psychological theory known as “Locus of control” which describes the way in which someone might credit certain events to themselves or to other external factors. For example, those who believe to have high levels of control are likely to attribute successes to their own abilities as opposed to luck.


5) Creativity

This is indicative of how effectively one might generate new ideas, which is vital to an entrepreneur wishing to establish themselves within a niche market. The ability to continually revolutionise and build upon pre-existing concepts may help to produce a vast number of successful business models.

Two: Financial and Business Acumen Questions

This is the second part of the cognitive assessment. This section contains some basic business questions. It aims to test your financial knowledge.

There are straightforward questions, calculation-based questions, pattern recognition questions & scenario-based questions.

Asides from a few straightforward questions, the best way to prepare for the other type of questions is to take free online GMATH tests. Once you’re done, click SUBMIT.

Your eligibility status TO CONTINUE OR NOT will be displayed on the screen and sent to your email. If you are eligible, look out for the email from the TEF team on the next step, “TRAINING”. If you are not eligible, you can take part in the free training on TEFConnect and need to try again in 2022 (I can see you screaming G-O-D…F-O-R-B-I-D!)

FOUR: Declaration

Here, you simply answer a series of yes or no questions. If your answer to any question here is ‘yes’, you really should not be applying for the Tony Elumelu Grant.


If you failed to get in last year, I suggest you get some form of professional support so you are better prepared to pass this time around. If you’re looking for paid professional consulting, hire Grant Master here.

If you’ve taken the test and you want to significantly improve your odds in the latter stages by putting together a powerful business plan or pitch, hire Grant Master here.

I hope my guide helps you nail your application.

God bless The Tony Elumelu Foundation for empowering African Entrepreneurs.

March 31 is almost here.

Victory belongs to the bold. Start your TEF grant application here.

Brief Profile

Olugbenga Ogunbowale is a social entrepreneur. An alumnus of the Leadership in Business Institute of Kellogg School of Management (USA), Olugbenga is the co-founder & CEO of Grant Master, an online platform that connects ambitious organizations in need of debt-free and equity-free funding with the top 5% of Grant Writers. Under Olugbenga’s leadership, Grant Master has attracted $250,000 in perks from brands like Amazon & Google. Grant Master’s grant writers have won $4.6 million in grant funding.

A philanthropist at heart, Olugbenga founded Africa’s biggest orphanage outreach coalition, The Orphan Empowerment Society (TOES), an NGO working to end orphan poverty in Africa. TOES has empowered nearly 25,000 orphans across 19 African countries with free vocational skills, medical care and food.

A Mandela Washington Fellow and Ambassador, Tony Elumelu Fellow, Mentor and Influencer, Royal Commonwealth society fellow, YALI West Africa fellow, YALI star of business, National Youth Service Corps Merit Award winner, YALI network influencer, International Partner representing Nigeria at World Business Angels Investment Forum, Olugbenga was recently recognized as one of the five most outstanding social entrepreneurs in Nigeria by The Nigerians NG, one of the ten outstanding young persons of Nigeria by Junior Chamber International (JCI) and one of the 100 most influential young people in the world by Opportunity Hub.

A 2-time TEDx speaker, Olugbenga has spoken at numerous events addressing high-level audiences including governors, business tycoons, lawmakers and stakeholders across 3 continents. Olugbenga has been featured by the United Nations, USAID, NTA, TVC, LTV, BCOS, Radio Nigeria, Tribune, The Nation, This Day, amongst others.