James Emejo in Abuja
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in collaboration with Heritage Bank Plc yesterday commenced the actual disbursement of a total sum of N774 million to 310 of the Youth Innovative Entrepreneurship Development Programme (YIEDP).
The beneficiaries were youths whose business proposals were found worthy for the initial disbursement.
CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele launched the YIEDP scheme in March as part of the apex bank’s efforts to reduce the country’s unemployment rate, which had increased to 13.3 percent in the second quarter and currently 13.7 percent.
The programme seeks to ensure that the creative energies of the over 64 million Nigerian youths are harnessed to stimulate growth, address restiveness and promote economic development.
The CBN is partnering the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) and Heritage Bank in the pilot scheme, which started seven months ago, to inspire and harvest the entrepreneurial abilities of Nigerian youths towards creating over 1 million direct jobs by 2020.
Speaking at the disbursement ceremony in Abuja, Emefiele said YEDP had the potential of becoming the stimulus for job and wealth creation, growth and economic development through improved access to finance by these young entrepreneurs.
Some of the beneficiaries who received N3 million each planned to invest in leather, poultry and fish production among others.
Represented by CBN Deputy Governor, Corporate Services, Alhaji Suleyman Barau, Emefiele further congratulated the young entrepreneurs who had been screened and successfully submitted bankable projects that were being currently funded.
He commended Heritage Bank for its painstaking effort to buy into the vision of job creation and piloting the programme to a successful stage.
He urged them to make judicious use of the loans to grow their businesses towards realizing the objectives of the programme as well as pay back at single digit interest rate so others could also benefit from the scheme.
Also speaking at the occasion, Managing Director, Heritage Bank, Mr. Ifie Sekibo said beneficiaries would get the fund as soon as certain concerns over the stringent conditions for accessing the loans by beneficiaries are addressed.
THISDAY gathered that the apex bank will be meeting with officials from both the NYSC and Heritage Bank to fine-tuned existing conditions which appeared to constrain the ability of beneficiaries to access the facilities.
According to Sekibo, who was represented by Group Executive Director, Lagos /South-West Corporate and Banking of Heritage Bank, Mrs. Mary Akpobome, a proper process of disbursement would be done to the young entrepreneurs.
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.”
Nevertheless, NYSC Director General, Brig. Gen Sule Kazaure commended the CBN for the historic initiative and urged the entrepreneurs to remain focused and ensure that loans are laid back to give other Corp member similar opportunities to benefit from the scheme.
The scheme is open to youths of between 18 and 35 years who are serving Corp members, graduates or artisans. All youths in this category are eligible to apply and will be pre-qualified for training on entrepreneurship before they can access credit lines of up to N3 million at single digit interest rate.
The progrmamme is further premised on the provision of timely and affordable credit to identified youths entrepreneurs with expected multiplier effect on job creation and economic growth.