Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has established a N2.5 billion special fund to finance serving Youth Corps members who develop and show commitment to good entrepreneurial skills.
Speaking at the formal launch of the scheme at the NYSC Orientation Camp in Abuja on Thursday, CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, said the N2.5 billion is part of the N220 billion Small and Medium Enterprises Development Fund launched in 2012, but which was yet to be assessed.
Emefiele, said that each successful corps member would be entitled to a maximum of N3 million loan adding that their degree certificates and their NYSC discharge certificates will serve as collaterals.
He, however, enjoined beneficiaries to display the highest level of probity saying “character must remain sound to the extent that they take the loan and they pay the loan. It is very important that this is emphasised and that is why I am saying that 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, both present and past ones so that we can nurture them as young entrepreneurs not as people who go into the world looking for jobs, but 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.
“We do not anticipate that any of them fails. The reason is because Nigeria is not the only country where small and medium enterprises loans have been granted. It has been successful in different countries. In South East Asian economies, it has been successful.
“Indeed, the highest rate of Non-Performing Loans (NPLs) that we have seen in these economies have been a maximum of three per cent. So, what we are saying is that if we lend money to 100 people, 97 people pay which is a very commendable feat and that is what we do expect here.
“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. I want to enjoin everyone who has accessed this loan to please pay” the governor, pleaded.
Earlier, the NYSC Director General, Brigadier General Sule Zakari Kazaure, thanked CBN for initiating such a training programme for corps members.
According to him, about 1,500 corps members are participating in the entrepreneurship training which is taking place simultaneously all over the country.
In Abuja, he said, there are 180 participants, Plateau, 130; Katsina State, 208; Enugu State,160; Akwa Ibom State, 227; Osun State, 271; Lagos State, 179.
He disclosed that the purpose of the training is to provide skills to the corps members so as to enable them achieve their goals in life. This, he explained, will help to reduce the unemployment rate in the country.