The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in partnership with Heritage Bank Plc has disbursed a total of N93 million to 310 young entrepreneurs in the country under the Youth Entrepreneurship Development Programme (YEDP) of the apex bank.
The disbursement of funds worth N3 million each to serving and ex-Corps members, was carried out in collaboration with the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), at a ceremony which took place on Thursday in Abuja.
Speaking at the event, the CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, represented by the Deputy Governor (Corporate Services}, Alhaji Sulieman Barau, said that the programme was to ensure that the creative energies of the over 64 million Nigerian youths are harnessed to stimulate growth, address restiveness and promote economic development.
He said that the programme was open to 18 to 35 years-old serving corps members, graduates or artisans.
The Managing Director of Heritage Bank, Mr Ifie Sekibo, urged the CBN to expand the programme to accommodate more qualified youth entrepreneurs.
Quoting from the National Bureau of Statistics, Sekibo, who was represented by the bank’s Executive Director, Corporate Banking, Mrs Mary Akpobome, said there were about 64 million unemployed youths in the country.
Sekibo said the bank currently has over 7,000 business proposals, thus it will require additional funding to cater for the needs of Nigerians.
He added that about N3 billion has been set aside at the initial stage for the programme which is why each participant is getting N3 million each, as the pilot programme is for a thousand people.
In his reaction, the NYSC Director-General, Brig. Gen. Sulaiman Kazaure, thanked the CBN for supporting efforts to empower the youths.
Kazaure noted that the launch of the YEDP would, among other things, create room for increasing the number of beneficiaries of the entrepreneurship training and venture prize competition to make meaningful impact.
The DG urged the beneficiaries of the programme to remain focused and ensure that the loans are paid back to enable other Corps members benefit from the facility.