The Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, in conjunction with Heritage Bank Plc, yesterday, commenced the process for the disbursement of N930 million to 310 young entrepreneurs under the Youth Entrepreneurship Development Programme, YEDP, so as to help address the rising unemployment situation in the country, empower the youths and reactivate the economy.
Speaking at the commencement of the loan disbursements to the beneficiaries, comprising members of the National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, graduates and artisans, the Governor of the CBN, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, disclosed that the YEDP is part of the plan by the CBN and the Federal Government to create over one million direct jobs by 2020.
Emefiele, who was represented by the Deputy Governor, Corporate Services Directorate of the CBN, Mr. Suleiman Barau, stated that the aim of the programme was to ensure that the creative energies of the over 64 million Nigerian youths are harnessed to stimulate growth, address restiveness and promote economic development. He said,
“To realize this objective, the CBN in partnership with the NYSC and Heritage Bank began the pilot seven months ago, to inspire and harvest the entrepreneurial abilities of Nigerian youths towards creating over one million direct jobs by 2020.” “I am pleased to announce the disbursement of funds to the first batch of 310 prospective entrepreneurs under the YEDP, while other applicants are at different stages of completing their loan documentation process.”
Emefiele further stated that the Programme is open to youths of between 18 and 35 years who are serving Corp members, graduates or artisans, while he stated that all youths in this category are eligible to apply and be pre-qualified for training on entrepreneurship before they can access credit lines of up to N3 million at single digit interest rate. According to him, the programme is premised on the provision of timely and affordable credit to identified youths entrepreneurs with expected multiplier effect on job creation and economic growth. He added that the YEDP has the potential of becoming the stimulus for job and wealth creation, growth and economic development through improved access to finance for young entrepreneurs.
He also assured the business community that the CBN would continue to provide enabling environment, devise ways and means to grow the real sector towards a self-reliant economy. .
Speaking in the same vein, Managing Director, Heritage Bank Plc, Mr. Ifie Sekibo, stated that the beneficiaries would get the fund as soon as certain issues raised by the beneficiaries are addressed. According to Sekibo, who was represented by Group Executive Director, Lagos and South-West Corporate Banking of Heritage Bank, Mrs. Mary Akpobome, a proper process of disbursement would be done to the benefit and happiness of all parties. He said, “They will get the money as soon as all those issues they raised are addressed. The money is available. They have been disbursed. CBN has disbursed to the banks. It is now about sorting out whatever the challenges are, and then the funds are now made available.” Commenting on the process, Sekibo stated that the target was for 1,000 beneficiaries, adding that the initial applicants were 4,000, while there are presently 7,000 applicants waiting. He said, “We are optimistic that by the time we are done with the initial 1,000, and we go back, we would be able to accommodate as many as are qualified as possible, and obviously expand the amount of money that is needed to do that.” He, however, declared that the process is going to be reviewed, stating that “for each of the items, you see, when you get an offer letter, if there are any of the line items that are conditions that you have a challenge with, it is obviously going to be reviewed with all parties.”
Also speaking, Director-General of the NYSC, Brigadier-General Sule Kazaure, said the YEDP was introduced in March 2016, with the aim of funding the business plans of corps members so as to encourage and motivate others to imbibe the culture of entrepreneurship. He further stated that the programme was also designed to facilitate access to other funding agencies and sources of support to corps members, while also making it possible for corps members to access Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, MSMES, funds from the CBN through Heritage Bank and other banks wishing to join in the programme.
He urged the beneficiaries of the programme to remain focused, while also ensuring that the loans are paid back to make for extension of the same facilities to other corps member.