From Isaac Anumihe, Abuja
Members of National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) who have good entrepreneurial skills can now access N2.5 billion loans provided by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
The loan is part of the N220 billion set aside for the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), which has been lying fallow since it was released in 2012.
Making this known at a flag-off of the training of the first batch of applicants under the Youth Entrepreneurship Development Programme (YEDP) in Abuja, CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, said that each corps member is entitled to a maximum of N3 million, adding that their degree certificates and their NYSC discharge certificates would serve as their collaterals.
He, however, was optimistic that the youths will exhibit the highest level of probity and responsibility in paying back the loan as no youth would like to toy with his degree certificate or NYSC discharge certificate.
“We are very optimistic and that is why we are saying that what is important is that our youths display the highest level of probity. 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; it is a loan that must be repaid.
“We are determined to give support to the youths and I truly must thank the NYSC 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 SME 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 expect here.
“However, we have as collateral their NYSC certificate as well as their degree certificate. We know that our youths know the importance of their degree certificates as well as their NYSC certificate as collateral for this loan. I don’t think 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.