As part of its efforts to provide lasting solution to graduate unemployment in the country, the Bank of Industry (BoI) and the National Youth Service Corp (NYSC) have launched N2 billion Graduate Entrepreneurship Fund (GEF) to empower thousands of youth corps members across the country.
Speaking at the joint launch of Fund in Lagos, BOI Managing Director, Mr Rasheed Olaoluwa, said the GEF provides a platform for the NYSC members to be trained and granted access to finance for actualising their viable business ideas.
Speaking further, the boss who said job creation in Nigeria had not kept pace with the growth in the working age population, noted that the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) reported that each year, about 1.8 million young Nigerians enter the already saturated labour market, adding that over 50 per cent of youths in Nigeria were unemployed.
He stated that the objectives of the GEF was to develop the entrepreneurship skills and capacity of the NYSC members, deepen financial inclusion by de-risking the NYSC members and making them eligible for small business loans, while also developing the next generation of Nigeria’s business leaders and promoting a business “can-do” spirit among Nigerian youths.
He, however, explained that an innovative approach was required to tackle the social menace of graduate unemployment that had engulfed the country.
“The strategy was to identify the innate talents of the young graduates as soon as they leave school, build their capacities for self-reliance; and also empower them to establish their own businesses, thereby creating jobs not just for themselves, but also for other youths that they may employ,” he said.
While also highlighting the component of the fund, the BOI boss hinted that there would be selection and screening of 1,000 NYSC members that would participate in the capacity building process through an online business idea competition and a three-day capacity building programme which would cover areas to help NYSC members to develop their own bankable business plans, which would form the basis for loan consideration.
He added that the capacity building component of the programme would be implemented in partnership with the NYSC Directorate and facilitated by the NYSC SAED Department and nine BOI partner Entrepreneurship Development Centres and Training Consultants to be undertaken in the six geopolitical zones of the country and Lagos State.
He said the total amount available for lending under GEF is N2 billion, saying that each beneficiary of GEF could access a minimum loan of N500,000 and a maximum of N2 million for the procurement of machinery and equipment, as well as for working capital, at a single digit interest rate of 9 per cent, with a loan tenor of three to five years, inclusive of six months moratorium.
How to Apply
- Register a business as an Enterprise or Limited Liability Company.
- Apply online for the GEF Entrepreneurship Capacity Building Programme on the BOI GEF portal: http://www.boi.ng/gef
- Register on http://www.boi.ng/gef using your NYSC State Code as your unique identification number.
The online application entails the provision of personal details of the NYSC member as well as a summary of his/her sound business idea in respect of any of the 35 SME clusters that form the focus of BOI’s SME financing.
The 1,000 successful applicants will subsequently be invited to the 3-day GEF Capacity Building Programme at the end of which they will qualify to apply for loans in respect of their various business ideas.