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BoI’s N10bn Entrepreneurship Programme to Create 1,200 Firms

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Bank of Industry

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.

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

Investment

The Time is Now for Global ESG Regulation: deVere CEO

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Nigel Green - Investors King

A global regulatory framework for environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing is now urgently required, affirms the CEO of one of the world’s largest independent financial advisory and fintech organisations.

The ‘call to action’ from Nigel Green, the chief executive and founder of deVere Group, comes as major financial institutions are handling a massive uptick of inflows into the sector but at the same time facing accusations of inconsistency in their approach to sustainable impactful investments.

Mr Green says: “Environmental, social and governance investing is this decade’s ultimate investment megatrend – and it has been accelerated since the pandemic began.

“There’s been a dramatic increase of inflows into the sector from both retail and institutional investors as it has become clearer than ever that human health is reliant upon healthy ecosystems; that we need to ensure the sustainability of supply chains; and that those companies with robust corporate governance and good business practice fare better in difficult times and are ultimately best-positioned for the future.”

He continues: “The trend is unlikely to slow down in a post-pandemic world. Millennials, who are statistically more likely to seek responsible investment options, are set to become the major beneficiaries of the largest inter-generational transfer of wealth – an estimated $30trillion over the next few years.

“In addition, recent research reveals that the majority of environmental, social and governance investments have outperformed their non-sustainable counterparts over the last year and have had lower volatility.

“This will only serve to attract more investors.”

Given the continuing and increasing demand, Mr Green says that the regulatory landscape must reflect the situation.

“Regulators need to catch-up.  Initiatives that began in the EU are now spreading worldwide, but much more needs to be done, at a faster pace and with a joined-up approach. There remains a startling lack of consistency in definitions and data.

“Considering the momentum of the sector, the time is now for the establishment of a global regulatory framework for ESG investing.”

This, he says, will provide greater protections for those investors who are looking for profits with purpose. It will also help to reduce ‘greenwashing’, which is where an investment or company gives an inaccurate impression over its green, socially responsible or corporate credentials.

The deVere CEO concludes: “A robust standardised regulatory framework would make the sector even more attractive, which will then help investors reach their financial goals whilst proactively protecting people and the planet.”

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BMW and Ford Invest in Solid Power to Secure All Solid-State Batteries for Future Electric Vehicles

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 Solid Power, an industry-leading producer of all solid-state batteries for electric vehicles, yesterday announced a $130 million Series B investment round led by the BMW Group, Ford Motor Company and Volta Energy Technologies.

Ford and the BMW Group have also expanded existing joint development agreements with Solid Power to secure all solid-state batteries for future electric vehicles.

The investment positions Solid Power to produce full-scale automotive batteries, increase associated material output and expand in-house production capabilities for future vehicle integration. The BMW Group and Ford aim to utilize Solid Power’s low-cost, high-energy all solid-state battery technology in forthcoming electric vehicles.

“BMW and Ford now share leading positions in the race for all solid-state battery-powered electric vehicles,” said Doug Campbell, CEO and co-founder of Solid Power. “Solid Power now plans to begin producing automotive-scale batteries on the company’s pilot production line in early 2022 as a result of our partners’ continued commitment to Solid Power’s commercialization efforts.”

Solid Power has demonstrated its ability to produce and scale next-generation all solid-state batteries that are designed to power longer range, lower cost and safer electric vehicles using existing lithium-ion battery manufacturing infrastructure.

Solid Power’s leadership in all solid-state battery development and manufacturing has been confirmed with the delivery of hundreds of production line-produced battery cells that were validated by Ford and the BMW Group late last year, formalizing Solid Power’s commercialization plans with its two long-standing automotive partners.

“Solid-state battery technology is important to the future of electric vehicles, and that’s why we’re investing directly,” said Ted Miller, Ford’s manager of Electrification Subsystems and Power Supply Research. “By simplifying the design of solid-state versus lithium-ion batteries, we’ll be able to increase vehicle range, improve interior space and cargo volume, deliver lower costs and better value for customers and more efficiently integrate this kind of solid-state battery cell technology into existing lithium-ion cell production processes.”

“Being a leader in advanced battery technology is of the utmost importance for BMW. The development of all solid-state batteries is one of the most promising and important steps towards more efficient, sustainable, and safer electric vehicles. We now have taken our next step on this path with Solid Power,” said Frank Weber, Member of the Board of Management BMW AG, Development. “Together we have developed a 20 Ah all solid-state cell that is absolutely outstanding in this field. Over the past 10 years, BMW has continuously increased the battery cell competence– important partners like Solid Power share our vision of zero-emission mobility.”

Solid Power is currently producing 20-ampere hour (Ah) multi-layer all solid-state batteries on the company’s continuous roll-to-roll production line, which exclusively utilizes industry standard lithium-ion production processes and equipment.

Both Ford and the BMW Group will receive full-scale 100 Ah cells for automotive qualification testing and vehicle integration beginning in 2022. Solid Power’s all solid-state platform technology allows for the production of unique cell designs expected to meet performance requirements for each automotive partner. Solid Power’s truly all-solid cell designs achieve higher energy densities, are safer and are expected to cost less than today’s best-performing lithium-ion battery cells.

“Volta invested early in Solid Power when our team of energy and commercialization experts found they had not only promising technology, but also a fundamental focus on manufacturability. After all, a breakthrough battery will not find a place in the market if it can’t be produced at scale with acceptable costs,” said Dr. Jeff Chamberlain, CEO of Volta Energy Technologies, a venture capital firm spun out of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory focused on investing in breakthrough energy storage and battery innovations.

“The fact that Solid Power is already producing multi-layer all solid-state batteries using industry-standard automated commercial manufacturing equipment is why Volta is excited to ramp up its earlier investment. The company’s partnership with BMW and Ford will further accelerate the full commercialization of Solid Power’s batteries and position both car companies to be among the first to have EVs on the road powered by safer, affordable, high-energy solid-state batteries.” He added.

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Custodian Investment To Raise $15M Additional Capital

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custodian and UACN Deal

Shareholders of Custodian Investment Plc yesterday gave their approval to the board of directors of the company to raise the naira equivalent of up to $15 million as additional capital through a convertible loan instrument.

The shareholders, who gave the approval at the 26th Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the group held in Lagos, also authorised the directors to convert the loan into shares in the company at a conversion price higher than N6.00 per share or the 12-month historical daily share price of the company derived from the Daily Official List of the Nigeria Exchange Limited (NGX)for the period ended March 23, 2021.

They hailed the board and management for reporting improved financial performance and returns on investment despite the adverse effect of the Covid-19 pandemic which disrupted global and local economies in 2020.

Sunny Nwosu, the founding Coordinator of Independent Shareholders of Nigeria (ISAN), commended the company’s performance and returns on investment. He, however, advised that the company should consider a bonus issue to shareholders because of the robust statutory reserves and regulatory requirements.

Also speaking, the President of Nigeria Shareholders Solidarity Association, Mr. Matthew Akinlade, said the performance was a very good one based on the financial indices.

Another shareholder, Mr. Adebayo Adeleke, commended the company for weathering the storm of 2020 and its challenging operating environment. He praised the company for the foresight of having a holding company which now enables it to make investment decisions easily.

The shareholders approved the final dividend of 55 kobo per share, bringing the total dividend to 65 kobo, having paid an interim dividend of 10 kobo last year.

Addressing the shareholders at the meeting, the Chairman of the board of directors, Dr. (Mrs.) Omobola Johnson, said, “I am delighted to report that our company recorded significant successes during the 2020 financial year despite the challenging operating environment, a fallout of the global Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting weak oil earnings, Naira devaluation and high inflation.”

She noted that the successes recorded by the company in 2020 was an affirmation of the robustness of the group’s business model, which allowed it to quickly adapt to the fast-changing environment, the astute leadership of the company supported by energetic employees using technology to efficiently provide prompt services to clients.

According to her, despite the challenges faced during the year under review, the group more than doubled its profits by posting a profit after tax of N12.69 billion as against N6.01 achieved in 2019.

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