• Thursday, June 13, 2024
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1,355 youths to access CBN’s N220bn MSMEDF in single rates


Nigeria’s Central Bank governor, Godwin Emefiele on Thursday raised concerns over the high unemployment levels in the country as he kicked off a Programme which would now enable some selected 1,355 youths access single interest loans to start off businesses.

Available data indicate that Nigeria’s unemployment rate reached 12.1 percent by first quarter of 2016.

Out of the total youth labour force of 38.2 million, representing 48.7 percent of total labour force in the country,15.2 million youths were either unemployed or underemployed during the first quarter of 2016.

This represents youth unemployment rate of about 42 percent based on National Bureau of Statistics data.

Flagging off of the training session for the selected corp members under the Youth Entrepreneurship Development Programme (YEDP) in Abuja, Emefiele regretted that Nigeria has a large resource base not being explored despite the prolific opportunities the youths offer.

Emefiele said the YED Programme was therefore borne out of the conviction that small businesses is a key element to building a strong economic base that is resilient to global fluctuations and a critical solution to Nigeria’s present economic woes.

The governor noted that the YEDP launched by the apex bank earlier in March 2016 and targets one million youth entrepreneurs was a key strategy in job creation in the country.

The training Programme is being run by the CBN in collaboration with heritage bank took off simultaneously in seven locations in the country and has 1,355 participants.

According to the governor, 180 participants were being trained in the Abuja, 130 in
Plateau for the North Central; 208 in Katsina representing the North West; 160 in Enugu for the South East; 227 in Akwa Ibom representing the South South; 271 in Osun for South West; 179 participants in Lagos and also for South West.

He said however that entrepreneurship zeal in Nigerian youths has been suppressed by low capacity and funding which have caused many youths to jettison their laudable ideas in pursuit of white collar jobs.

“It is therefore a matter of urgency for us to fully roll out the YED Programme to engage youths in productive ventures.

He said the Programme will build the capacity of the teeming youths inorder lay a strong private sector foundation in the country and that they would be able to access the N220bn MSMEDF using their degree and NYSC discharge certificates as collaterals.

“I am very optimistic. What is more important is that our youth should display the highest level of probity, character must remain sound to the extent that they will repay when they take the loan.

It is very important that this is emphasise it is not a grant, but “a loan that must be repaid,” he stressed.

Emefiele disclosed that the Programme portal went live in March, over 10,000 youths have applied and screened by the Heritage Bank.

The target population under the YED programme is youths within 18-35 years who after being pre qualified a lending bank will undergo entrepreneurial training and submit business proposals and applications for appraisal in prescribed format.

He said cardinal to the success of this Programme is the active participation of the financial institutions and other stakeholders.

He urged the banks to commit themselves to developing and implementing financial products that would increase access to finance by the SMEs sub sector, particularly start ups and youth entrepreneurs.

“We all have a moral obligation to complement each other’s resources to help take our youths off the streets using the the YEDP as the tool for achieving inclusive growth for the country.”

The Managing Director of Heritage Bank, Ifie Sekibo described the Programme as an experimental venture which if successful, might take the country to the path of economic expansion.

“For us to invest in you, you must bring your character to the table, a tenacious spirit, a never die sprit, can do spirit,” he urged the young entrepreneurs.

Director General, NYSC Sule Kazaure said Programme is coming at a time the economy is facing serious challenges that can best be battled through promotion of private enterprises.