File photo: The NYSC Batch ‘B’ Corps Members At Their Passing -Out Parade At Murtala Muhammed Square, Kaduna on Thursday. Photo by Olu Ajayi
The Bank of Industry (BoI) has commenced a nationwide capacity building programme for 976 National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members under its N2 billion Graduate Entrepreneurship Fund (GEF) scheme.
The fund, an initiative of the bank in partnership with the NYSC, was launched on Oct. 5, 2015, to address the high rate of youth unemployment in the country.
Inaugurating the second edition of the GEF scheme on Thursday in Lagos, Mr Waheed Olagunju, BoI Acting Managing-Director, said that the programme would harness youth resourcefulness for economic development.
Olagunju said that the success recorded in the first phase of the scheme reinforced the bank’s commitment to youth empowerment.
He noted that N439.8 million was approved for 260 of the 976 participants in the first phase, while N194.4 million had been disbursed for execution of 140 projects.
“These young Nigerians have not only taken themselves out of the job market, but have become employers of labour creating, 560 direct jobs and over 2000 indirect jobs,” Olagunju said.
He noted that the training, holding simultaneously in seven centres across the country, had been extended to four days, adding that the participants’ business plans would be developed during training.
Olagunju said that the 10 business consultants involved in the training had been tasked with handholding the participants through the early stage of their business to ensure sustainability.
According to him, the programme will encourage youth entrepreneurship, close entrepreneurship capacity gap, deepen financial inclusion by de-risking corps members for loans and ensure sustainability of businesses through mentorship.
Mrs Ibukun Awosika, Chairman, First Bank of Nigeria, advised the youths to be different and creative, tenacious and embrace values that would lead to economic growth of the country.
“I know that this country will be great and its greatness lies in the youth: Your efforts are part of nation building; make them count and do not be the missing link,” Awosika said.
Brig-Gen. Sule Kazaure, NYSC Director-General, urged the corps members to ensure the sustainability of the training and called for supervision of the programme to achieve its objective.
The director-general appealed to the BoI to expedite action in processing loan requests after training.
He said that delay in doing this and release of funds to some beneficiaries in the previous batches of the scheme led to their withdrawal from the programme.
Kazaure urged other organisations to emulate the BoI through partnership with NYSC for provision of training and seed capital that would turn corps members into job creators.
Mr Godswill Okpeku, a participant, said that the training would boost his knowledge and position him for financial assistance that would aid the business growth.
“My dream is to invest in aquaculture because agriculture is the path to prosperity: Despite recession, people must surely eat; I see myself meeting that need and also providing job in the process,” he said.
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