The first batch of three hundred and ten youth entreprenuers have benefited from loans under the CBN-NYSC-Heritage Bank Youth Entrepreneurship Development Programme (YEDP).
The funds were disbursed to the beneficiaries, comprising serving and ex-Corps members, at a ceremony, which took place today at the Central Bank Headquarters, Abuja.
They were given loans of up to three million naira each at single digit interest rate.
In his address, the Central Bank Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, said other applicants are at different stages of completing their loan documentation process.
Emefiele, who was represented by the Deputy Governor; Corporate Services, Suleiman Barau, recalled that the YEDP was introduced by the Bank in March 2016 as part of efforts to reduce the rate of unemployment in the country.
He noted that the programme was also 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 added: “To realize this objective, the Bank, in partnership with the NYSC and Heritage Bank, began the pilot seven months ago to inspire and harvest the entrepreneurial abilities of Nigerian youths towards creating over one million direct jobs by 2020”.
The Governor announced the commencement of the YEDP with other Deposit Money Banks such as Sterling Bank and Fidelity Bank in a bid to fast track the process of identifying budding young entrepreneurs and broaden the scope of the entire programme.
Speaking on the occasion, the NYSC Director-General, Brigadier General Sulaiman Kazaure, thanked the CBN for supporting efforts to empower the youths.
Kazaure recalled that at the NYSC and CBN started collaborating on entrepreneurship in 2006 in what was tagged NYSC/CBN Ventures Prize Competition through which the first three winners at the state and national level were rewarded with sums ranging from two hundred and fifty thousand to one million naira.
He 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.
Also speaking, the Managing Director of Heritage Bank, Mr. Ifie Sekibo, said since the commencement of the programme, the Bank had worked assiduously with the CBN and the NYSC to develop guidelines and holistic risk management framework to protect its integrity and sustainability.
Sekibo said from the 4,000 applications received, 1,200 were shortlisted and taken through at a 3-day Enterprise Development Training at selected NYSC Orientation camps across the six geo-political zones of the country.