As part of efforts to address the challenge of youth unemployment in the country, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has set aside ₦2.5 billion to be disbursed to qualified members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) to actualise their business ideas under the Youth Entrepreneurship Development Programme launched on March 15 this year by CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele.
The bank says the ₦2.5 billion was set from the ₦220 billion Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development (MSMEs) Fund, a special intervention fund created to provide low cost, long tenured funds to MSMEs to enhance their capacity for employment generation, economic development and inclusive growth.
The CBN, which is targeting to create one million jobs through YEDP, is collaborating with Heritage Bank Plc, to develop the entrepreneurial capacity of the youth as well as provide each of them with a maximum of ₦3 million to finance and operate a business.
The activities to be covered under the programme are start-ups and expansion projects in the agricultural value chain (fish farming, poultry and snail farming), cottage industry, mining and solid minerals. Others are tourism, arts and crafts, Information and Communications Technology and any other activity that may be determined by the CBN.
Speaking during the event at the NYSC camp in Abuja on Thursday, Emefiele said the initiative would enable the CBN to conserve the huge foreign exchange, which was currently being spent on importation.
Emefiele stressed that was a loan and that their degree and NYSC discharge certificates would serve as collateral.
“It is not a grant; it is a loan that must be repaid. We are determined to give support to the youth and I truly must thank the National Youth Service Corps, which has helped us to put together the first set of NYSC beneficiaries so that we can nurture them as young entrepreneurs, not as people who go into the world looking for jobs. We want to nurture them as people who are developing the entrepreneurial spirit and entrepreneurial skills; not only for their good, but also for the good of the country,” Emefiele said.
He expressed optimism that the corps members would not default in repaying the loan since they won’t like to risk forfeiting their certificates.
“We know that our youths know the importance of their degree certificates as well as their NYSC certificates used as collateral for this loan. I don’t think that somebody who has a degree certificate or HND certificate to get gainful employment or a gainful life will abandon his certificate or his NYSC discharge certificate just because he wants to take a loan and not pay back,” he said.]
In his remarks, the Director-General, NYSC, Brig.-Gen. Sule Kazaure, commended the CBN for initiating the programme, which he said would help to reduce the problem of youth unemployment in the country.