The Bank of Industry (BOI) has approved N426,796,078.66 for disbursement to 253 NYSC Corp members.
The acting Managing Director, BOI, Mr. Waheed Olagunju, said the high unemployment rate is a serious issue undermining the growth of any nation, maintaining that it was as a result of this challenge that the development finance institution (DFI’s) Graduate Entrepreneurship Fund (GEF) was launched to encourage graduates of tertiary institutions to become employers of labour rather than job seekers in the country.
Olagunju during a cheque presentation to beneficiaries of the fund, said that the fund which its disbursement had already begun, would address the entrepreneurship capacity gap of the young NYSC members, deepen financial inclusion by de-risking the NYSC members and making them eligible for small business loans.
He added that the GEF was also to ensure the sustainability of the businesses of the young graduates through effective monitoring.
Furthermore, he noted that to achieve the outlined objective, the programme was implemented as an integration of entrepreneurship capacity building and funding in three stages such as selection/screening of the NYSC members that participated in the capacity building process through an online questionnaire administered by BOI, organising a – three day intensive entrepreneurship training on generating a business idea, the business model and basic financial record keeping and providing financial support for those with bankable business ideas.
He said the event is an integral part of the implementation of BOI’s Graduate Entrepreneurship Fund (GEF) programme and the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) Directorate.
He pointed out that while some institutions in the past have organised skills acquisition and entrepreneurship programmes for youths aimed at building their capacities, such programmes have failed to elicit funding support from financiers.
Olagunju stated that as a result of this challenge, the DFI has bridged the gap with the introduction of its GEF programme which it launched last year in partnership with the NYSC directorate.
He noted that in line with the outlined stages, the online questionnaire portal went live on October 5, 2015 and a total of 3,100 applications had been received by the time entries closed on November 4, 2015. “Subsequently, the Bank set up a 10-man panel to review the applications and shortlist a total of 1,002 candidates that were able to clearly outline their business ideas. The 3-day training programme was held at seven designated training centers across the six geopolitical zones of the country and Lagos,” he said.
In his words, “Certificates of participation were issued to the 896 NYSC members that attended the training under the tutelage of nine of the best entrepreneurship training institutions/consultants that Nigeria has to offer.”
He said at the end of the training, participants were required to come up with detailed business plans/feasibility studies with vivid description of their business ideas, business models and implementation strategies, stressing that as at the deadline of February 15, 2016 for the submission of loan applications, a total of 360 candidates had submitted requests for an aggregate sum of N695.16 million spanning across 27 out of the 40 product clusters identified by BOI.
The areas of interest, according to him, were mainly agro-processing, such as meat processing cattle and poultry, aquaculture and food processing, quick service restaurants, fashion design, shoe making, cosmetics and the likes
He said the nine partner training institutes and consultants also had the responsibility of guiding the NYSC members through preparation of their business plans and even reviewed them before submission to BOI.
The implementation of the maiden edition of GEF, he added, has not been without its challenges where most proposals to be implemented are in locations different from the State of candidates’ places of primary assignment.