The Minister of Industry, Trade and investment, Dr. Okechukwu Enelemah, weekend stated that the federal government was committed to tackling unemployment in the country through the Youth Entrepreneurship Support Programme (YES-Programme), which was expected to generate 36,000 jobs for the nation.
He explained that as part of the federal government’s drive and wealth creation programme, which is aimed at addressing the malaise of youth unemployment, the Bank of Industry (BOI) evolved a N10 billion YES programme.
The committee that will screen the YES programme participants and present a road map for it, has been inaugurated by Enelemah.
The minister stated that the programme was targeted at young aspiring entrepreneurs within the age range of 18-35 years, who have a minimum educational qualification of Ordinary National Diploma (OND) or its equivalents.
The minister added that the programme, which comprises eight weeks online and five days in-class entrepreneurship capacity building, is expected to draw 10,000 applications from the target participants, out of which 2,000 would qualify for the training.
Enelemah added: “A total of 1,200 young aspiring entrepreneurs with the highest scores based on the outcome of the evaluation of their performance in the training programme are expected to emerge for funding by BOI subjects to a maximum of N5 million each. The 1,200 businesses that would eventually be created are expected to generate 36,000 jobs.
“I’m elated by the report I received this morning that from March 17, 2016, when the YES-programme online registration portal went live to date, about 40,000 entries had been received which is 300 percent.
“I would to like to assure our youths of the federal government’s absolute commitment to its financial inclusion programme. In doing this, government will endeavour to meet the aspirations of the youths by providing all the support needed by the BOI to successfully implement the YES-Programme. This is in consonance with the federal government inclusive development strategy.”
In his remark, the acting Managing Director of BOI, Mr. Waheed Olagunju, stated that since the programme was launched in March, they have noticed a large volume or registration on the online portal which stood at 40,000 by 300 percent over the six week period.
He said: “We have come to the realisation that Nigerian youths have enormous entrepreneurial appetite waiting to be unleashed on the nation’s economy in a positive sense.”
Olagunju added that the completed applications received from the six geopolitical zones were very amazing with the South West leading by 29 percent, closely followed by the North East 23 percent, North Central 16 percent, South South, 13 percent, North West 12 percent and South East 7 percent.
He said: “Our training facilitators and consultants on the programme are among the best the country can offer. They include the Pan Atlantic University-Enterprise Development Centre, the Kaduna Business School, LEAP Africa, Empretec Foundation, Fate Foundation, African Community Bridge Foundation, After School Graduate Development Centre, Growing Business Foundation, Prinsult Global Limited, Valucon Business Service and VSL Consulting Limited.
“They are all primed to train and offer business development services and mentorship to the successful young entrepreneurs. We have agreed that we should provide more opportunities for the youths by increasing the number of would-be loan beneficiaries from 1,200 to 4,000. Efforts will be made to ensure a fair distribution of the beneficiaries in consonance with the proportion of the entries received from the six geopolitical zones.”
The new inaugurated members of the committee were the General Manager, Lagos Business School, Dr. Peter Bankole; the Director of Kaduna Business School, Dr. Dahiru Sani; the Regional Head of Small and Medium Scale (SMEs) in the Southern part of the country, Mr. Ibrahim Mohammad, and the Regional Head of SMEs in the North, Umaru Shekaru.