The President Buhari-led Federal Government is adamant on the fact that youths in Nigeria are resources to be harnessed and not a problem, hence their initiation of a new initiative tagged “Nigeria Youth Investment Fund” (NYIF).
NYIF will empower young entrepreneurs with easy access to soft loans between N250,000 to N3 million. The loan will be granted through a number of channels such as Micro Credit Organisations, Bank of Industry, BoI, Fintech Organisations and Venture Capital Organisations registered with the Central Bank of Nigeria.
According to the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr Sunday Dare, the aim of the scheme is to enrol 500,000 youths between 2020 and 2023.
This is to enable them to turn into entrepreneurs, Wealth Creators and Employers of Labour, contributing towards the national development objectives.
The NYIF will be financed through an initial take-off seed capital of N12.5 billion.
In addition to the initial seed capital, the Federal Government is expected to release a minimum of N25 billion each year in the next three years, totalling a total of N75 billion to ring-fence the NYIF. It is also anticipated that successive governments will keep the fund, akin to a Youth Bank, alive and operational in its entirety.
To qualify for the NYIF, beneficiaries must meet the following requirements: They must be a citizen of Nigeria who is between the age bracket of 18 and 35 years. They must have a business that is domiciled and operates in Nigeria. They must have a valid Local Government Indigene Certificate and a clean record from all security agencies.
There is no deadline for application but applicants are advised to make their applications as soon as possible in order to maximize their chances of getting approved. They should also be ready to provide a Bank Verification Number and guarantor for their loans.
Besides, the applicant must be able to demonstrate that their business or ideas are viable and can be monetized. They must also be willing to sign a contract with the implementing bank and comply with the relevant laws and regulations as well as any terms and conditions stipulated by the CBN for the programme.
The CBN is implementing the scheme through NIRSAL Micro Finance Bank (NMFB). It has released a framework for the scheme and outlined that beneficiaries will be eligible for up to N3m single-digit interest loans with a one-year moratorium.
This is the first step of a comprehensive action plan to help Nigerian youths develop sustainable businesses that will increase employment opportunities and contribute to national economic growth. The plan is designed to address the fragmentation of existing youth initiatives that prevent assessment of impact and to provide Nigerian youth with the financial inputs required to establish and expand successful businesses that can become long-term employers of labour and contributors to the country’s development goals.
This is a critical component of the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development (FMYSD)’s National Plan to combat youth unemployment and drive innovation, and entrepreneurship and support SMEs.