The Federal Government on Thursday launched a N10bn Youth Entrepreneurship Support programme aimed at raising a new set of entrepreneurs in the country.
The YES programme, which is an initiative of the Bank of Industry, is targeted at reducing the huge level of youth unemployment in the country.
The fund will be deployed to support the establishment or expansion of about 1,200 enterprises promoted by youths across the country.
The scheme is expected to create minimum of 6,000 direct jobs and 30,000 indirect jobs annually, totalling 36,000.
The YES programme is also aimed at developing the entrepreneurial capacity of youths within the age bracket of 18 to 35, with a view to funding their business plans.
Under the scheme, each beneficiary is eligible to access a loan up to a maximum of N5m for the procurement of machinery and equipment as well as for working capital of the enterpise.
According to Punch, the loan is expected to be given out at a single digit interest rate of nine per cent, with tenor of three to five years, and a moratorium of six months.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who launched the scheme in Abuja, said the programme was coming at a time when the Federal Government was working assiduously to diversify the economy.
While commending the youth for their entrepreneurial spirit, the vice president, who was represented at the event by the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr. Okechukwu Enelamah, said about 1.8 million young Nigerians were entering the labour market annually.
He said the scheme would serve as a platform to address the huge unemployment situation in the country.
Osinbajo said, “These are extraordinary times for us as Nigerians and as a government, as we continue to grasp with the sharp decline in revenue from crude oil, which has been the mainstay of our economy. We must, however, not be unmindful of the opportunity this situation presents.
“It is important we look inwards in this period and look at ways of exploiting the entrepreneurial spirit and zeal of our people. The intense energy of our large youthful population is a strength that we need to exploit by re-orientating them towards positive engagement in entrepreneurship.”
He called on would-be beneficiaries of the scheme to take advantage of the BoI initiative to actualise their dreams of becoming entrepreneurs, noting that the Federal Government would continue to provide incentives that would stimulate the economy and improve the wellbeing of the people.
The Acting Managing Director, BoI, Mr. Waheed Olagunju, said the scheme would provide a learning platform to train young aspiring people in entrepreneurship, business management and technical skills.
This, according to him, will translate into improved efficiency and productivity, boost the entrepreneurial spirit of the youth as well as act as an incubation centre where business ideas are nurtured to their full potential.