YouthBank has concluded plans to launch its first micro- business incubator for street youths in Lagos. YouthBank is a social enterprise focused on economic development through youth entrepreneurship.
The transatlantic team (from Nigeria, the UK, the United States, and Canada) will celebrate the launch of Youth Bank at the US Consulate in Lagos on August 21.
The business incubator is a community centre which operates a recording and photography studio, provide business and leadership training.
The incubator is the product of collaborative efforts involving CLEEN Foundation, Freedom Foundation, and the US Consulate of Lagos.
An initiative over three years in the making, YouthBank is a new model for microfinance, representing a collaboration among business and community leaders, development professionals, consultants and students that seeks to connect street youth in urban areas with the skills, resources, and mentors needed to transition into small business ownership and community leadership.
YouthBank has already received enthusiastic support from respected community leaders Olufemi Johnson, Yemisi Ransome-Kuti of the Nigeria Network of NGOs and May Okonkwor of the SkilDev Foundation, and is partnering with the CLEEN Foundation and Freedom Foundation. Additionally, YouthBank has international supporters from North American businesses, intergovernmental organizations, and prestigious universities.
Microfinance, providing small business loans to people who do not have access to traditional credit sources, has spread across the globe: the World Banks estimates over 7,000 microfinance institutions (MFIs) serving 16 million people in poverty worldwide. However, urban youth have largely been excluded from this microcredit revolution due to higher perceived credit risk.
The YouthBank model was created with this underserviced population in mind: the â€˜community hubâ€™ model trains and evaluates street youth as they work in a core business, then makes targeted investments in the most innovative ideas from the most promising young entrepreneurs.
Successful entrepreneurs repay their in-kind loans and commit to hiring and investing in other YouthBank graduates. Built on the principles of microfinance, venture capital and community development, YouthBank is financially sustainable, scalable, and impactful for its young entrepreneurs and their communities.
As one of the worldâ€™s largest â€œmegacities,â€ Lagos seemed like the natural choice to test such a model. Additionally, YouthBank has been invited to open centers across Nigeria (including in Port Harcourt and Kaduna), as well as in Cameroon and Kenya.