The Central Bank of Nigeria said it has set aside N2.5bn for members of the National Youth Service Corps with good business ideas to actualise their dreams. The N2.5bn, which was set from the N220bn Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Fund, the bank said, would be disbursed to the corps members under the Youth Entrepreneurship Development Programme.
The CBN is targeting to create one million jobs through the YEDP, which is an initiative of the apex bank launched on March 15 this year by the governor, Godwin Emefiele.
The purpose of the programme is to address the challenges of youth unemployment in the country. Under the YEDP, the apex bank, in collaboration with Heritage Bank Plc, will develop the entrepreneurial capacity of the youth as well as provide each of them with a maximum of N3m to 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 to import food items.
He said each corps member was entitled to N3m, adding that their discharge certificates as well their degree certificates would be used as collateral to secure the loan.
The governor stated, “It is not a grant and 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 expressed optimism that the corps members would not default in repaying the loan owing to the fact that they would not want to lose their certificates for N3m.
He added, “We do not anticipate that any of them fails. However, we have as collateral their NYSC certificates as well as their degree certificates. We know that our youths know the importance of their degree certificates as well as their NYSC certificates 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.”
The Director-General, NYSC, Brig.-Gen. Sule Kazaure, commended the CBN for initiating the programme for the corps members.