The Central Bank of Nigeria said it had set aside a total sum of N2.5bn for members of the National Youth Service Corps with good business ideas.
The N2.5bn which was set aside out of the N220bn Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development fund would be disbursed to the youth corp members under the Youth Entrepreneurship Development Programme.
The CBN is targeting to create a total of one million jobs through the YEDP which is the initiative of the apex bank launched on March 15 this year by the CBN Governor,Mr Godwin Emefiele.
The purpose of the program is to address the challenges of youth unemployment in the country.
Under the program, the apex bank in collaboration with Heritage Bank Plc would develop the entrepreneurial capacity of the youths as well as provide them with fund of a maximum of N3m each to operate a business
The activities to be covered under the programme are startups and expansion projects in agricultural value chain (fish farming, poultry and snail farming), cottage industry, mining and solid minerals.
Others are tourism, arts and crafts, information and communications technology and any other activity that may be determined by the CBN.
Speaking during the event at the NYSC camp in Abuja, Emefiele said the initiative would enable the CBN conserve the huge foreign exchange which had been spent in importing food items.
He said each Corp member is entitled to N3m adding that their discharge certificate as well their degree certificate would be used as collateral to secure the loan.
He said, “It is not a grant and it is a loan that must be paid. We are determined to give support to the youth and I truly must thank the National Youth Service Corps who has helped us to put together the first set of NYSC, so that we can nurture them as young entrepreneurs, not as people who go into the world looking for jobs.
“We want to nurture them as people who are developing the entrepreneurial spirit, entrepreneurial skills, not only for their good but also for the good of the country.
He expressed optimism that the Corp member would not default in repaying the loan owing to the fact that they would not want to lose their certificate for a loan of N3m.
He added, “We do not anticipate that any of them fails. However, we have as collateral their NYSC certificate as well as their degree certificate. We know that our youths know the importance of their degree certificates as well as their NYSC certificate as collateral for this loan.
“I don’t think that somebody who has got a degree certificate or HND certificate to attain a gainful employment or a gainful life will abandon his certificate or his NYSC discharge certificate just because he wants to take a loan and not pay.”
The Director General, NYSC, Brigadier-General Sule Kazaure, commended the CBN for initiating the program for corps members.
He said a total of 1,500 corps members are participating in the entrepreneurship training program across the country.
He said 180 participants in the scheme are in Abuja; Plateau, 130; Katsina State, 208; Enugu State,160; Akwa Ibom 227; Osun State, 271; and Lagos State, 179.