Emefiele, Sekibo reiterate support for small businesses — Chijioke Nelson

By Ikenga Chronicles July 4, 2016

Emefiele, Sekibo reiterate support for small businesses — Chijioke Nelson

Urges fund beneficiaries to develop ‘character’

In continuation of the development financing scheme, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), while flagging off an entrepreneurship development programme at the weekend, stressed the importance of small businesses in building a strong economic base that is resilient to global fluctuations.

Besides, it expressed optimism that tapping the potentials of the youths, particularly the entrepreneurial drive and inquisitiveness in them, was vital to the stimulation of sustainable and equitable socio-economic development in the country.

CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, who made the observations at the kick-off of training of successful National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members under the Youth Entrepreneurship Development Programme (YEDP), said the country owes the youth this support now that unemployment is at its high

 Citing the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), which put youth unemployment rate at 42.24 per cent in the first quarter of 2016, he lamented that entrepreneurship among Nigerian youths had been hindered by low capacity and funding despite the abundance of opportunities.

Meanwhile, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Heritage Bank Limited, Ifie Sekibo, has identified “character” as the success factor for the 1,500 youths participating in CBN’s N3 billion Youth Innovative Entrepreneurship Development Programme.

Sekibo, whose bank emerged the sole partner bank in the N3 billion funding scheme, advised the youths to adopt a strong positive character to enable them take advantage of the platform being presented to them.

The event, which took place at the NYSC Orientation Village, Kubwa, Abuja, marked the beginning of an experiment in reducing graduate unemployment in the country by extending single-digit interest rate loans to enable qualified NYSC members and young graduates fulfill their dreams of becoming entrepreneurs.

Sekibo tasked the young beneficiaries, who through initial tests were selected from nearly 10,000 applicants, to remain focused and tenacious so as to be able to succeed.

“Today, you represent the first step into an experiment that if we succeed, we would be on a part of turning the economic tide of our great nation. But you have to bring your character to the table. If you do not bring your character to the table, this experiment will not succeed.”

“As I wish you well, I beg you in the name of God to bring your character to the table. You must develop a tenacious spirit, a can do spirit, a never say die spirit that can surmount all challenges.

“The effort we have undertaken today will amount to nothing if your character is not on the table. Every man, every leader worries about the character of the people he works with. If you are tenacious we will do the best we can to sponsor you to your highest dreams. Give us the opportunity to sponsor you to your highest dreams,” he said.

 CBN had selected Heritage Bank as its pilot partner bank to unveil, administer and manage the project, which will focus on dependable job-creating sectors, such as agricultural value chain- fish farming, poultry, snail farming; cottage industry; mining and solid minerals; creative industry- tourism, arts and crafts; and Information and Communications Technology.

However, Emefiele observed that the challenge of access to funds made many youths to jettison their laudable ideas in pursuit of white-collar jobs, while many others become exposed to societal ills, as their dreams from their academic pursuit could not be realised.

He said that CBN decided to intervene in the situation to prevent a further degeneration in the employment situation in the country and therefore, charged the youth corps members selected under the programme to judiciously utilise the funds by engaging in productive ventures such as rice, cassava and tomatoes farming, warning that the credit facility was not a grant, but a loan that would be repaid at a single digit interest rate.

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