The Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele has flagged-off the formal training of successful National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members under the Youth Entrepreneurship Development Programme (YEDP).
Performing the ceremony at the NYSC orientation camp, Kubwa, Federal Capital Territory (FCT), on Thursday, June 30, 2016, Mr. Emefiele stressed the importance of small businesses to building a strong economic base that is resilient to global fluctuations.
Declaring the training open, the CBN Governor expressed optimism that tapping the potentials of the youths was vital to the stimulation of sustainable and equitable socio-economic development in the country.
While citing the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) figures that put youth unemployment rate at 42.24 per cent in the first quarter of 2016, he lamented that entrepreneurship among Nigerian youths had been hindered by low capacity and funding despite the abundance of prolific opportunities.
Continuing, he observed that the challenge of accessibility funds had made many youths to jettison their laudable ideas in pursuit of white collar jobs, while many educated youths had been exposed to societal ills, as their dreams from their academic pursuit could not be realized.
Mr. Emefiele declared that the CBN decided to intervene in the situation to prevent a further degeneration in the employment situation in the country. He therefore charged the youth corps members selected to receive facilities under the YEDP to judiciously utilize the funds by engaging in productive ventures such as rice, cassava and tomatoes farming. This is even as he emphasized that the credit facility was not a grant but a loan that would be repaid at a single digit interest rate.
Also speaking, the Director-General of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) Brigadier General Sule said the YEDP was a milestone in the NYSC programme, coming at a time the economy was faced with serious challenges that could best be tackled by the promotion of private enterprise.
While commending the CBN/Heritage Bank intervention, which he described as a turning point in the history of youth entrepreneurship in Nigeria, Gen. Kazaure encouraged other financial institutions to emulate the CBN and Heritage Bank in financing youth business enterprise.
The NYSC DG therefore urged all Corps members, irrespective of their course disciplines, to key into the opportunities provided by the Collaboration and become budding entrepreneurs through skill acquisition, self-employment, wealth creation and employment generation.
In his remarks, the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Heritage Bank, Mr. Ifie Sekibo urged the successful Corps members to use this opportunity to realize their dreams by judiciously utilizing the funds.
Speaking on behalf of other Corps members, Mr. Success Obi pledged to prudently expend the credit facilities for the said purpose.
The Youth Entrepreneurship Development Programme (YEDP) was launched on March 15, 2016 with the aim of providing timely and affordable credit to assist youths in implementing their business ideas, thereby providing the mechanism of stimulating growth, reducing unemployment as well as addressing youth restiveness. More than 10,000 youths have submitted their applications for the YEDP. One thousand, five hundred and forty seven (1,547) Corps members scaled the rigorous selection process to emerge as the first batch of trainees in the pilot phase of YEDP training.
The pilot phase of the YEDP, which is sponsored by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in collaboration with Heritage Bank, took place simultaneously in seven centres of Akwa Ibom, Enugu, Osun, Lagos, Plateau, Katsina and FCT for Corps members selected from the 36 states and FCT.