The Bank of Industry has initiated the Youth Entrepreneurship Support (YES) Programme, with a view to instilling entrepreneurship spirit in the Nigerian youth.
The Federal Government of Nigeria, through the Bank of Industry Nigeria, on Thursday last week, formally launched a N10 billion Youths Entrepreneurship Support (YES) project to empower youth with loans to start businesses in Nigeria.
At the signing of memorandum of understanding with entrepreneurship capacity building facilitators and consultants, Waheed Olagunju, acting managing director/CEO, said this was another initiative of the BoI designed to address youth unemployment in Nigeria
The development bank had, in October 2015, initiated the Graduate Entrepreneurship Fund (GEF) to empower members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) with marketable and bankable business ideas in the real sector.
According to Olagunju, the YES Programme entailed building the capacity of the youths by equipping them with the requisite entrepreneurial knowledge and skills, while also funding their business plans. He said this would enable the young Nigerians to be self-employed and manage their own businesses.
“Applicants will register online and will be expected to provide accurate answers to questions. Such answers count towards determining the suitability of the applicants for the training programme. Only the top 1,200 online participants will qualify for the in-class training programme annually,” he disclosed.
“Participants will be drawn from young aspiring entrepreneurs between the ages of 18 and 35 years, with innovative ideas who must have a minimum educational qualification of an Ordinary National Diploma (OND) or its equivalent,” the helmsman of BoI said.
He said the objectives of the programme included creating an interactive learning platform to train young aspiring entrepreneurs in entrepreneurship, business management and technical skills that would ultimately translate into improved efficiency and productivity; kindling the entrepreneurial spirit of the youths, as well as acting as an incubation centre where business ideas were nurtured to their full potential.
The MD further said the programme was intended to entrench global best practices by inculcating a culture of innovation-driven entrepreneurship and ethics in the programme participants, while promoting self-employment among graduates.
The programme comprises eight weeks of extensive online entrepreneurship and business management training, where participants are tested and their progress tracked
The acting MD said there would be five days in-class entrepreneurship and business management training covering five modules, adding that 10,000 online applications would be solicited nationwide, out of which 2,000 would be selected for the online training.
He said the in-class training would be delivered by BOI accredited partner training institutions and would take place on a bi-annual basis at selected centres spread across the six geo-political zones of the country, including Lagos and Abuja, adding that 600 participants were expected to be trained at the designated locations twice in a year.
Some of the 11 training facilitators with whom BoI signed the MOU included African Community Bridge Foundation, After School Graduate Development Centre, Empretec Nigeria Foundation, Fate Foundation, and Growing Business Foundation, among others.
Olagunju said the final evaluation and selection of the candidates qualified for funding under the YES-Programme, will be by a seven-man panel comprising senior management staff members of the bank and other eminent members made up of successful entrepreneurs, professionals, and retired bankers.