By Victoria Hanson
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Heritage Bank Plc and The National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) have disbursed a whopping sum of N774million to 310 beneficiaries under the Youth Innovative Entrepreneurship Development Programme (YIEDP).Speaking at the flag-off ceremony for the disbursement of funds to young entrepreneurs under the YIEDP, on Thursday, the CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, commended Heritage Bank for its painstaking effort to buy into the vision of job creation and piloting the programme to a successful stage.
The governor, who was represented by the Deputy Governor, Corporate Services, Alhaji Suleiman Barau, said the CBN in partnership with Heritage Bank and NYSC instituted the programme to reduce the alarming rate of unemployment affecting over 16 million unemployed youths in Nigeria, adding that the access to credit via this platform would be a powerful instrument to grow businesses and the economy.
He noted that the YIEDP was part of the plan by the CBN and the Federal Government to create over one million direct jobs by 2020.
Emefiele, who affirmed that the programme would have a multiplier effect on job creation and economy, urged all the beneficiaries to make judicious use of the fund.
He added that the YIEDP has the potential of becoming the stimulus for job and wealth creation, growth and economic development through improved access to finance for young entrepreneurs.
He also assured the business community that the CBN would continue to provide enabling environment, devise ways and means to grow the real sector towards a self-reliant economy.
Speaking in the same vein, Managing Director, Heritage Bank Plc, Mr. Ifie Sekibo, stated that the beneficiaries would get the fund as soon as certain concerns raised by the beneficiaries regarding the conditions for the loans are addressed.
According to Sekibo, who was represented by Group Executive Director, Lagos /South-West Corporate and Banking of Heritage Bank, Mrs. Mary Akpobome, a proper process of disbursement would be done to the benefit and happiness of all parties.
He said, “They will get the money as soon as all those issues they raised are addressed. The money is available. They have been disbursed. CBN has disbursed to the bans. It is now about sorting out whatever the challenges are, and then the funds are now made available.”
Commenting on the process, Sekibo stated that the target was for 1,000 beneficiaries, adding that the initial applicants were 4,000, while there are presently 7,000 applicants waiting.
He said, “We are optimistic that by the time we are done with the initial 1,000, and we go back, we would be able to accommodate as many as are qualified as possible, and obviously expand the amount of money that is needed to do that.”
The MD disclosed that Heritage Bank leveraged on its robust electronic platform in order to ensure a seamless and successful disbursement of the YIEDP funds.
Also speaking, Director-General of the NYSC, Brigadier-General Sule Kazaure, said the YEDP was introduced in March 2016, with the aim of funding the business plans of corps members so as to encourage and motivate others to imbibe the culture of entrepreneurship.
He further stated that the programme was also designed to facilitate access to other funding agencies and sources of support to corps members, while also making it possible for corps members to access Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, MSMES, funds from the CBN through Heritage Bank and other banks wishing to join in the programme.
He urged the beneficiaries of the programme to remain focused, while also ensuring that the loans are paid back to make for extension of the same facilities to other corps members