The Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, on Monday unveiled a youth empowerment programme that would see about 60 young and enterprising graduates receive business entrepreneurship training.
The CBN governor, Godwin Emeifiele, said at the opening of the 8th Micro, Small, Medium Enterprises, MSME, Finance Conference and Entrepreneurship Awards in Abuja that this was one of the strategies to help promote job creation and poverty reduction in Nigeria.
According to the CBN governor, since the launch of the Microfinance Policy, Regulatory and Supervisory Framework for the Establishment of Microfinance Banks in 2005, the MSME Conference has remained the biggest annual event in the country.
He said this year’s Conference, themed “MSME Financing in Nigeria: Past, Present and Future,” intended to consolidate efforts towards the empowerment of entrepreneurs in this sub-sector, by formulating policies and strategies to address potential challenges.
An important innovation in this year’s programme, the governor said, was the Entrepreneurship Clinic, a forum where aspiring young entrepreneurs would be provided with required tool kits to start and grow their businesses.
Under the programme, he said, about 60 enterprising graduates specifically invited to the programme would be trained and mentored on how to identify business opportunities and source for finance.
“All the young entrepreneurs participating at the session will be monitored with respect to the progress and achievements recorded before the next Conference,” Mr. Emefiele said.
He said with limited amount of funds the CBN has committed to the programme, the bank would be looking forward to partner with private sector players to improve access to finance by beneficiaries.
Acknowledging the remarkable economic growth and development the country has achieved in recent years as a result of the innovativeness, enterprise and resilience of the people, he said the programmes would boost the capacity to do more.
As a result of the people’s industry, he said, the country’s economy had in the last seven years expanded by an average of 7 per cent against sub-Sahara Africa’s average real gross domestic product (GDP) growth of 5.2 per cent.
Equally, he noted that in the first quarter of 2014, the country’s real GDP grew by 6.2 per cent, mainly driven by an 8.2 per cent growth in the non-oil sector.
To sustain the developmental strides with a balanced and inclusive economic growth, the CBN governor said it would depend largely on the provision of affordable and efficient financial services to the MSMEs.
Underlining the importance of the MSMEs, particularly the micro entrepreneurs who account for more than 90 per cent of the MSMEs in the country, the CBN governor said it was imperative that there were strengthened, to forestall the adverse socio-economic consequences of financial exclusion.
To help provide access to finance as a catalyst to job creation and poverty reduction, President Goodluck Jonathan would on Tuesday flag-off the disbursement of the N220 billion MSME Development Fund launched by the CBN.
The fund was established to provide financial resources to the entrepreneurs across the country through participating financial institutions, PFIs.