The Acting Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Bank of Industry (BOI), Mr Waheed Olagunju has disclosed that the bank is ready to reduce the level of unemployment in the country as stated by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) from 25 per cent to 8 per cent,by giving grants to any viable business idea that will stimulate growth brought to it by entrepreneurs .
This, he said necessitated the reason for the signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), with 11 different training institutes under a new programme called Youth Entrepreneurship Support (YES) programme, where youths between the ages of 18 to 35 will be supported with grants from a limitless pool of funds to start their business with.
Olagunju said this in Lagos at the signing of MoU with the training institutes, asserting that the need to provide jobs to the teeming youths in the country is the core of the programme that will be based on commodity based industrialization where areas of comparative advantage like agricultural, solid minerals, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and the creative industries will be focused on.
On why the scheme does not have a financial ceiling,he said: “For every billion spent by BOI,4000 jobs can be created ,value addition is the key. We spent N2m for GEF which is the pilot programme, but for this, all funds at our disposal will be made available as we have the backings of our stakeholders to deepen our service delivery.
“We now have an Executive Director for MSME’s which shows government’s renewed efforts to grow the economy through MSME’s as we realised supporting them will provide more jobs to Nigerians unlike the big chain enterprises that employ less”.
He said the YES scheme is a BOI initiative designed to address youth unemployment in Nigeria by building the capacity of youths by equipping them with the requisite entrepreneurial knowledge and skills,as well as funding their business plans, which would enable them to be self-employed and manage their own businesses as “participants must have a minimum educational qualification of an Ordinary National Diploma (OND) or its equivalent”.
On the operational framework of the scheme, he said: “ 10,000 online applications will be solicited nationwide, out of which 2,000 would be selected for the online training component of the YES programme, with 1200 online participants qualifying to the in-class training programme to be delivered by BOI accredited partner and shall take place on a bi-annual basis at selected centers spread across the six geo-political zones of the country including Lagos and Abuja as 600 participants shall be trained at the designated locations twice in a year”.
The centers are African Community bridge Foundation, After School Graduate Development Center, Empretec Nigeria Foundation, Fate foundation, Growing Business foundation, Kaduna Business School and Leap Africa.
Others are Pan Atlantic University Enterprise Development Center, Prinsult Global Consult limited, Valucon business services and VSL consulting limited.
The YES scheme is a follow up to the N2 billion Graduate Entrepreneurship Fund (GEF) initiated with the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC).