BoI Unveils N2 billion Graduate Entrepreneurship Fund
In a bid to bridge the widening gap in unemployment ratio, especially among youths, the Bank of Industry (BoI), yesterday, unveiled a N2 billion Graduate Entrepreneurship Fund (GEF) for youths undergoing the mandatory National Youths Service Corps (NYSC) programme.
According to the bank, the Fund, provides a platform for NYSC members interested in entrepreneurship to be trained and granted access to finance for actualising their viable business ideas.
To achieve its objectives, the bank has equally sealed a pact with the NYSC Directorate through the NYSC Skills Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development (SAED) initiative and nine other partner Entrepreneurship Development Centres/training consultants selected by the BoI.
Speaking at the unveiling of the Fund in Lagos, yesterday, the Managing Director, BoI, Rasheed Olaoluwa, explained that the Fund is designed to encourage graduates of tertiary institutions that are serving under the one-year NYSC programme, to venture into business and become employers of labour rather than job-seekers, while developing the next generation of Nigeria’s business leaders.
He said: “An innovative approach is required to tackle this social malaise of graduate unemployment that has engulfed the country. The strategy is to identify the innate talents of these young graduates as soon as they leave school, build their capacities for self-reliance; and also empower them to establish their own businesses, thereby creating jobs not just for themselves, but also for other youths that they may employ.
“Of the over 250,000 graduates of Nigerian tertiary educational institutions that enrol in the NYSC Scheme each year, more than 41 per cent of Nigerian graduates are without employment after the mandatory NYSC programme. Job creation in Nigeria has simply not kept pace with the growth in our working age population.”
To address these challenges, he noted that N2 billion has been provided by the bank to finance businesses under the Fund, with each beneficiary of GEF accessing a minimum loan of N500,000 and a maximum of N2.0 million for the procurement of machinery and equipment as well as for working capital, at a single digit interest rate of 9%, with a loan tenor of 3 to 5 years inclusive of six months moratorium.
“One unique feature of GEF is that it does not require the conventional collateral usually demanded by banks. The collateral requirements for the loan include specific charge over the equipment procured with the loan; Lien on the NYSC discharge certificate. NYSC Directorate will undertake not to release the service discharge certificate until after the loan is liquidated; and one guarantor of the borrower”, he added.
Under the initiative, Olaoluwa noted that 1000 NYSC members will be selected to participate in the capacity building process through an online business idea competition, while medium to long-term loans at single digit interest rates will be provided by BoI for qualifying/successful NYSC members that have bankable business plans after a three-day capacity programme.
The Director-General of the NYSC, Brigadier-General Johnson Bamidele Olawumi commended the bank for the initiative, while advocating a conducive business environment for start-ups to thrive.
According to him, many startups in the country record a high mortality ratio not because of inability to access capital but as a result of the regulatory environment and unstable government policies.