By Racheal Ishaya
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in partnership with Heritage Bank on Thursday in Abuja disbursed N93 million to 310 young entrepreneurs in the country.
The CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, represented by the Deputy Governor, Corporate Services,
Alhaji Sulieman Barau, presented a N3 million cheque to each of the young entrepreneurs.
The disbursement was carried out under the auspices of the bank’s Youth Entrepreneurship Development Programme (YEDP) in collaboration with the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC).
Emefiele said that the YEDP initiative was meant to inspire and harvest the entrepreneurial abilities of Nigerian youths toward creating over one million direct jobs by 2020.
He said that the programme was open to 18 to 35 years-old serving corps members, graduates or artisans.
He added that “to overcome the bottleneck of collateral requirements for loans, the beneficiaries’
academic and NYSC certificates, third party guarantees and movable assets are allowed as acceptable collateral under the Programme.
“The programme has a revolving fund with target to create more than one million direct jobs.
“We encourage all Nigerian youths that are interested in being their own boss to apply online through the participating banks.”
Emefiele said the bank had also commenced YEDP with other deposit money banks such as Sterling Bank Plc and Fidelity Bank Plc.
He said that successful youth enterprise under the YEDP were expected to graduate to other interventions of the bank with larger finance opportunities.
The Managing Director, Heritage Bank, Mr Ifie Sekibo, urged the CBN to expand the programme to accommodate more qualified youth entrepreneurs.
Quoting from the National Bureau of Statistics, Sekibo, who was represented by the bank’s Executive Director, Corporate Banking, Mrs Mary Akpobome, said there were about 64 million unemployed
youths in the country.
Sekibo said the bank currently has over 7,000 business proposals, thus it will require additional funding to cater for the needs of Nigerians.
He added that “N3 billion has been set aside at the initial stage for the programme that is why each participant is getting N3 million each, because the pilot programme is for a thousand people.
“As people begin to see the success of the programme, it is our hope that CBN will graciously extend the facility so that we can accommodate as many qualified young entrepreneurs as possible.”
The Director-General, NYSC, Brig.-Gen. Sule Kazaure, said the facility would serve as motivation to bright corps members to avoid joining the millions of unemployed population at the end of their service year.
A beneficiary of the programme, Miss Ndifreke Inyang, who said that the loan was not given to them to spend as they wished, stressed that beneficiaries must show invoice for each payment.
Inyang added that this would limit their bargaining powers in business deals, hence increase their expenses.
She then urged the CBN, NYSC and Heritage Bank to review the conditions guiding the disbursement of the loan.