Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Heritage Bank Plc, Mr Ifie Sekibo has identified “character” as the success factor for the 1,500 youths participating in the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) N3 billion Youth Innovative Entrepreneurship Development Programme (YIEDP).
Speaking at the official flag off of the training programme of the first batch of beneficiaries of the youth empowerment programme initiated by the CBN with Heritage Bank Plc and the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) as partners, Sekibo 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, marks the beginning of an experiment in reducing graduate unemployment in the country by extending single-digit interest loans to enable qualified NYSC members and young graduates fulfill their dreams of becoming entrepreneurs.
Mr 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.
The CBN had selected Heritage Bank as its pilot partner bank to unveil, administer and manage the laudable 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 (ICT).
Following the inauguration of the initiative by the CBN and the subsequent launch of a business application portal by Heritage Bank in March this year, not less than 10,000 applications have been received.
Out of this number, 1,547 candidates, representing the first batch of possible beneficiaries of soft loans for their business ideas, have been shortlisted to report for a three-day business development training workshop, which will be conducted across CBN Enterprise Development Centres in the six geopolitical zones.
To be eligible for the YIEDP funding, youths must be within the age bracket of 18 and 35 year old, serving National Youth Corps members or non-NYSC members with not more than five years post-service.