The Bank of Industry (BoI), First Bank of Nigeria Limited and the Afterschool Graduate Development Centre (AGDC) have announced plans to raise one million new entrepreneurs in the country. This they say is in acknowledging the fact that entrepreneurship development will aid the creation of job opportunities so as to address the high level of unemployment in Nigeria.
The Acting Managing Director of BoI, Waheed Olagunju, explained to newsmen the urgent need to bring down the level of unemployment in the nation to single digit, maintaining that the nation will be sitting on a time bomb of youth restiveness if nothing is done in the next two to three years to address the scourge.
Olagunju, during a courtesy visit of the Managing Director, First
Bank of Nigeria Limited, Mrs. Ibukun Awosika, said: “We at BoI also know that we need to create a high level of entrepreneurs. We need to have high numbers of entrepreneurs because we cannot solve the high level of unemployment in this country except we increase the number of entrepreneurs.”
The acting Managing Director stated that the Development Finance Institution (DFI) had just launched its youth empowerment programme and is expected to turn out about 1200 entrepreneurs, but stressed that Nigeria needs more than that number to create the proportionate employment opportunities for its teeming unemployed youths.
According to him, under the YES programme, “we are expecting that there will be 10,000 applicants and also looking at about turning out about 1200 applicants yearly.
“We know this cannot go a long way in the country considering the size of the country and this is why we are looking forward to collaborating with development partners in this country to get a high number of entrepreneurs. To tackle the unemployment situation in this country, we need to bring the unemployment rate to single digit which means we ought to have created about 15 million new jobs in the country. If we do not act fast in the next two to three years, we will have boys on the street coming to attack us.
“At BoI, we believe that there can be no development without communication. We need to change the mindset of our people. Under our Graduate Empowerment Fund (GEF), we have received over 3000 applications where we invited 1000 for the capacity building where only 800 showed up and out of the 800, only 350 applied. Last year, we had plans to disburse 15 billion but only disbursed N5.6billion to those who qualified. This year, we are targeting N30 billion.”
Earlier, the Managing Director, First Bank of Nigeria Limited, Mrs. Ibukun Awosika, stated that the partnership with BoI is a step in the right direction to help the nation address its high rate of unemployment in the country, pointing out that Nigeria has got to a dire situation where the country has too many young people unemployed due to lack of viable businesses in the country.
She said: “There are not enough businesses in the country and you can only create jobs when you create businesses. Government alone cannot create employment opportunities as you can see, we have more people than we need in many government institutions and other sectors are letting go of staff right now because everybody is streamlining in line with the economic meltdown.
“The only way we can keep moving the economy forward and also taking care of social issues including employment, is that we must create jobs and creating jobs is about building the entrepreneurs.”
She also pointed out that there is a major information and knowledge gap in the country, saying that Nigerians have a natural abundance of entrepreneurial exuberance but lacks the real knowledge.
“For sure we came to the right partners because the BoI has always been an organization that we have engaged at different times. The AGDC has developed and also looking for ways to scale that across the country so that we can help a lot more people who are entrepreneurship oriented to organize themselves to be able to execute their ideas and find both the training and the financial support required to do that.
We are looking at raising the next one million new entrepreneurs who can at least employ two people in the first year and if you add the two people plus the entrepreneur, that will be three million jobs been created in the first year,” she said.