By Anselm Okolo
National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, (Q3) 2015 report says about 36.3 million youths represented 48% of the nation’s labour force, while 13.6 million or 37.7% of Nigerian youths were either unemployed or underemployed.
NBS specially highlighted that while many of these youths are creative, innovative and skilful they have remained unemployed. A major factor it identified holding the youths down to unemployment have been lack of finance and financial support systems to help them achieve dreams.
All over the world nations are developing and executing various kinds of policies and programmes to position their youths for development. According to Dennis Erezi in an article he titled “Situating Nigerian Youth for National development” published in the guardian newspaper of September 17, 2017, he argued that “we do not need a bill to know that the youth are the foundation of positive and negative picture of any society. Their energies, inventiveness, character and orientation define the pace of development and security of a nation. Through their creative talents and labour power, a nation makes giant strides in economic development and socio-political attainments.”
Other Development experts agree with Erezi. They add that “national development is the capacity of the country to raise the standard of living of its residents. It can be achieved by providing individuals with basic livelihood requirements and supplying them with employment.”
In all societies of the world, a virile youth is the bedrock on which national integration and development is predicated. The youth are the back bone and the building blocks of any nation.
It is in agreeing with these postulations that the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele have moved the bank in the recent years to introduce far reaching and easy to access funding mechanisms for youths in the country to develop themselves and in the process contribute positively to national development.
In addition, the youth intervention programmes of the bank have further led to fewer incidents of youth restiveness, cultism, membership of negative gangs and militant groups across the country and even more.
Many have argued that for the country to become self-sustainable and to achieve much desired economic diversification, special intervention youth engagement and support programmes is a given because they constitute the highest number of the working population.
On the flip side, it has returned many youths to agriculture and activities along the various value chains in agriculture, led to the realisation of many dreams in the creative industry, incentivised many start-ups and small – scale businesses. The story of change in the mouth of many youths following the intervention programmes of the bank are endless.
No wonder Emefiele says these programmes will be strengthened for greater achievements. Some of the programmes the CBN have been using to achieve these feats include:
YOUTH ENTREPRENEURSHIP DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME YEDP
One of such initiatives is the Youth Entrepreneurship Development Programme YEDP unveiled on 15th March, 2016 to tap the ingenuity and resourcefulness of Nigerian youths for optimum stimulation of the economy.
The YEDP is part of CBN’s efforts to deepen credit delivery to address the challenges of unemployment, promote entrepreneurial spirits among Nigerian youths and enhance the spread of small and medium enterprises.
The programme is aimed at harnessing the latent entrepreneurial spirit of the teeming youths by providing timely and affordable finance to implement their business ideas.
YEDP is a sustainable mechanism to stimulate employment, contribute to non-oil Gross Domestic Product GDP and address the challenge of youth restiveness.
The Apex Bank’s YEDP program is designed to provide youth entrepreneurs and start-ups with adequate capital in order for them to achieve creative dreams that would engender the economy.
According to Emefiele, it offers credit of up to N3 million to eligible youth or N10 million for groups of three to five youths with Interest rate of single digit per annum.
Also, the loan tenor is determined by the project complexity and cash flow however, is between one year for working capital loan and three years for term loan.
Deliberately CBN made loan requirements under the scheme less rigorous. Ccollateral needed are only: academic and NYSC certificates, third party guarantees and other movable assets.
Cost of training for pre-qualified applicants will be shared between the CBN and the lending bank at 50:50 or any other agreed ratio. While the grant credit is designed for only activities covered under the guidelines, assets accepted or financed as collaterals for the loan with the National Collateral Registry NCR are welcomed.
While CBN will monitor the projects during the loan period, the recipient must in addition render periodic returns as may be specified by the CBN from time to time.
Any person who accesses the facility shall within two weeks of repayment, discharge all movable collaterals used to securitize the loan on the National Collateral Registry and notify the customer accordingly.
Target beneficiaries under YEDP are members of the National Youth Service Corps NYSC, non-NYSC but not more than five years post – NYSC, but it must be those who have a verifiable tertiary institution certificate, and artisans with First School Leaving Certificate or a technical certificate or accredited proficiency certificate from the National Board for Technical Education NBTE, whichever is applicable.
Emefiele while speaking on the program explained that the beneficiaries can leverage on it to migrate to other CBN interventions to obtain more funding if they utilize the YEDP facility properly.
The CBN regulations show that small business that are targeted under the scheme include: start-ups and expansion projects in agricultural value chains, fish farming, poultry, snail farming, etc., cottage Industry, creative industry tourism, arts and crafts and Information and Communications Technology ICT among others.
Another way the CBN has been promoting and enhancing youth development in the country is through sustained sports development initiatives. Youths form the greater part of human resources for sports in the country. Through continued sponsorship of these competitions and sports initiatives the bank has been contributing to the engagement of youths in positive ways and provided monetary benefits to winners of the competition – who have most often been youths.
Some of these sports activities and competitions include:
1. All Financial Institutions Football Competition
2. CBN Juniors Tennis Tournament
3. CBN Senior Open Tennis Tournament
4. CBN Governor’s Golf Cup
Emefiele has urged youths in the country to embrace all of these competitions “to achieve self development and move the economy forward”
ANCHORS BORROWERS PROGRAMME, ABP
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), in line with its developmental functions as enshrined in Section 31 of the CBN Act 2007, established the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) to create economic linkages between smallholder farmers (SHFs) and reputable companies (anchors) involved in the production and processing of key agricultural commodities. The core of the Programme is to provide loans (in kind and cash) to smallholder farmers to boost agricultural production, create jobs, reduce food import bill towards conservation of foreign reserve
The targeted beneficiaries shall be smallholder farmers and medium to large scale farmers engaged in the production of agricultural commodities across the country. The smallholder farmers should be in groups, cooperative(s), associations or under out-grower arrangement.
Targeted Agricultural Commodities
The agricultural commodities covered under the Programme shall include:
I. Cereals (Rice, Maize, wheat etc.)
III. Roots and Tubers (Cassava, Potatoes, Yam, Ginger etc.)
V. Tree crops (Oil palm, Cocoa, Rubber etc.)
VI. Legumes (Soybean, Sesame seed, Cowpea etc.)
VIII. Livestock (Fish, Poultry, Ruminants etc.)
IX. Any other commodity that may be decided upon by the Bank from time to time
The ABP is aimed at creating employment for youths and boosting agricultural production for food security in the country.
According to the Apex bank “it would give financial support to youths and other small – scale farmers to boost cassava, rice and maize production.”
Sensitising youths in Ogun state recently on the ABP a staff of the bank and Adviser to Emefiele Mr Ademuyiwa confirmed that Nigerian youths have been showing enthusiasm to explore the opportunities available under the programme. For instance, he said a total of 3,107,890 farmers had have applied for funding for commodities farmers in the state have considerable advantage to produce.
CREATIVE INDUSTRY FINANCING INITIATIVE (CIFI)
CBN has been disbursing loans to youth entrepreneurs at a 9% interest rate through Nigerian banks to fund creative businesses. The CIFI loan has a flexible repayment period spanning 3 to 10 years.
To qualify for the CIFI loan, applicants is required to operate businesses in any of these areas: Fashion, Information Technology, Movie Production, Movie Distribution and Music distribution. Under the scheme Software Engineering students can as well apply for loans to escalate their talents and ideas.
Applicants are further required to have duly registered businesses with the Corporate Affairs Commission, and must possess a valid Bank Verification Number BVN. They will also be required to develop a comprehensive business plan.
Software Engineering students can access up to N3 million while Movie Production businesses can get as much as N30 million. A maximum loan of N500 million is available for Movie Distribution businesses.
Overall, in whatever scheme or opportunity a Nigerian youth keys in, the CBN is desirous to see many more Nigerian youths key into the apex bank’s financial programmes geared to enhancing sustainable development.
Emefiele said at the opening of the FIFC recently that “to embrace various intervention programmes of the bank to better their lots, and contribute to the development of the nation.”
“I encourage you to access various CBN interventions in the agricultural sector, as well as the creative industry’s financial initiative CIFI both with a high and low-interest finance in fashion, music and technology. The Apex Bank also did not leave youths behind in it’s popular and very successful Anchor Borrower program used to revive agriculture in the country.
Analysts are commending the CBN for the bold initiatives and opportunities available under the Schemes for youths in the country. they are also praising Emefiele for the simplicity of the processes of accessing financing under them.
One fact they praise is that the Schemes have given youths in the country very affordable opportunities to develop themselves and become integrated into the mainstream of the nation’s economy, and further equipped to create jobs for other youths in the country.
According to Dr Sola Abeyi “While the efforts of CBN Governor is quite commendable as a way forward in refocusing the Nigerian Youths, it’s Important to note that Sustainability is the key; and lasting solution is to sustain the tempo” because “It’s not until successive administrations buy into it, and entrench the youth course into the system before we can say that we are sure of what the future holds for the youths in Nigeria.