BoI disburses N426m to youths under GEF scheme
To further promote entrepreneurial initiatives in a bid to reduce youth unemployment, the Bank of Industry (BoI) has approved N426 million for on-lending to businesses owned by National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members under the Graduate Entrepreneurship Fund (GEF).According to the bank, the move has become necessary considering the double-digit unemployment rate amidst few jobs.
Acting Managing Director, BoI, 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’s GEF scheme 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 in Lagos, added 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 proposed businesses and make them eligible for small business loans.
He also added that the GEF was also designed to ensure the sustainability of the businesses of the young graduates through effective monitoring.He noted that to achieve the outlined objective, the programme was implemented as an integration of entrepreneurship capacity building and funding initiative.
He pointed out that while some institutions in the past organised skills acquisition and entrepreneurship programmes for youths aimed at building their capacities, such programmes have failed to elicit funding support from financiers.
He stated that as a result of this challenge, the DFI decided to bridge 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.
“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 added.
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.
He stated that the areas of interest were mainly agro-processing, such as meat processing cattle and poultry, aquaculture and food processing, quick service restaurants, fashion design, shoe making, cosmetics and others.
He said the implementation of the maiden edition of GEF 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.
“Therefore, such candidates could not commence the implementation processes on time. Some candidates have submitted proposals that are not viable, therefore warranting a change in project concept where they so desire and also given the Bank’s “pay on delivery” policy, some suppliers were unwilling to accept such a policy, thereby causing some delay in the implementation of the projects.
He however stated that the DFI shall continue to improve on the implementation of the programme through the feedback process and would also continue to come up with measures that will ensure the success of the businesses of the GEF loan beneficiaries. NYSC Skills Acquisition Director Mrs Theresa Anosike noted that the body will continue to explore partnerships with other stakeholders.