To check rising unemployment rate in the country, the Bank of Industry (BoI) has disbursed over N30 million to youths in Osun State under its partnership with the Oduduwa Foundation, to support and empower youths with viable business plans in driving economic development.
Indeed, the Development Finance Institution (DFI), said the 20 beneficiaries of its first phase of the N1 billion Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) development fund between BoI and the House of Oduduwa, had undergone capacity programmes on services and value addition mainly in the agro-processing sector within the last six months. This is to enable the beneficiaries to put the funds to judicious and effective use while also adding value to the nation’s natural resource endowments.
The Acting Managing Director, BoI, Waheed Olagunju, during the Ooni of Ife’s first year coronation anniversary, said: “These are the beneficiaries for the first phase of the N1 billion Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) development fund headed by the Ooni himself. So they have been substantially de-risked. We believe strongly that about 80 or 90 per cent of those who were given cheques today would succeed given the capacity building programme they have undergone”.
According to the Acting BoI boss, the initiative is a continuous process to achieve youth emancipation, pointing out that the bank is in collaboration with the enterprise development centre of the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) to build capacities of youth in the State.
“Their repayment plan varies and depends on their cash flow, but typically, our facility ranges between 3 to 5 years and at a single digit of seven per cent. We do not only look at the financial viability of projects, but also the developmental impact, potential multiplier effect and the strategic importance of such projects. In this particular case, job creation is the most important consideration because the multiplier effect per unit of investment in MSMEs is much more higher than any other sizes of business. Jobs are created vertically and horizontally and the multiplier effects are quite enormous,” Olagunju said
“We received more than 20 applications. Only the first 20 scaled through. We are also considering the other applications and we believe early in the new year, the other beneficiaries will also receive their
own cheques,” he added.
He however commended the Ooni of Ife for the support the DFI had received in the last six months, saying that with the commitment of Ooni and other leaders at the federal, state and traditional level,Nigeria shall be out of the woods sooner than expected.
The Ooni of Ife, Adeyeye Ogunwusi, lauded BoI’s move to equip youths in the State with the necessary tools and support to become productive in the society, saying that this would go a long way to address youth restiveness in the country.
He however stated that as a traditional ruler, he would put his efforts to ensure a peaceful coexistence and drive youth emancipation and diversification programmes in the State.
“This is the time we must collaborate with the government and stop the blame game. We must focus more on how we can take advantage of our abundant natural resource endowments to put us back in our pride of place as a great nation,” he said.
One of the beneficiaries of the fund, Ademoriti Victor, a plantain flour processor, expressed gratitude to BoI for empowering him with the necessary technical knowledge on how to expand his business, saying that before now, he has not been able to reach a sizeable number of demand for his goods, but stressed that the intervention fund would increase his capacity to produce more to meet the ever changing needs of his consumers.
“I want to thank BoI for its different and brilliant initiatives targeted towards youth empowerment. I want to say support to agro processing such as this would go a long way to boost the nation’s agricultural sector while also ensuring food safety,” he said.