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Nigerian Government Makes An Unprecedented Move To Support It’s Youth

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Nigeria Youth Investment Fund to benefit young entrepreneurs

Africa is a youthful continent. In Nigeria, for example, 50% of the population is made up of people aged between 15 and 34. To maximize their potentials, the government has to more to boost education and create jobs. African youth are blessed with talents and abilities that can change the economic woes of the continent. However, they need all the necessary support. The Nigeria Youth Investment Fund may just be the solution.

Youth Unemployment in Nigeria

Figures from the International Labor Organization (ILO), estimate that 14.2 percent of the youth in Nigeria are unemployed. Joshua Meribole states in his article ‘7 Facts About Nigerian Youth Unemployment’ that high unemployment rates are partly due to:

  • Rural-urban migration has led to a population explosion in the cities. The formal sector does not have enough jobs to offer job seekers.
  • A large percentage of the unemployed youth did not complete their education. Therefore, they lack the necessary skills to compete.

Also, it is almost impossible for the government to create jobs for all Nigerian youths due to the country’s large population. Consequently, the best shot at survival for a young person is to venture into self-employment.

What Challenges do Youth Entrepreneurs face in Africa?

Entrepreneurship may seem like the only way to escape poverty in Africa. However, it is never a smooth ride. Inasmuch as entrepreneurship offers a solution to unemployment, it is difficult to succeed without ample support. In Africa, entrepreneurs face myriads of challenges as highlighted below.

  • Most African youth venturing into self-employment do not have access to business support programs that offer mentorship.
  • Due to lack of collateral, they have no access to finance
  • A large number of them run their businesses from home and on the street. Hence it is difficult for them to access online business platforms.

Maria Immanuel in her article Youth Entrepreneurship in Africa: A beacon of hope for the continent said,

‘’Most youth entrepreneurs don’t make it beyond registering a small business because the process is cumbersome and costly. As an unintended consequence, most youth startups operate in the black market and this hinders their sustainability because, without a properly registered company, it becomes difficult to benefit from policy interventions such as incentives and other support programs.’’

How Nigeria Youth Investment Fund will lend support to Entrepreneurs

The Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development launched the Nigeria Youth Investment Fund in October 2020, to address youth unemployment. The fund aims to support youth entrepreneurs aged between 18-35 to grow their businesses. Over time, they should be able to provide employment for other youths. In other words, the government is relying on a public-private partnership to solve the unemployment crisis in the country.

A total of 75 billion naira (approx. $195 million) has been set aside and will be disbursed between 2020 and 2023. In addition to financial support, the youth will have access to training in business management. In fact, entrepreneurship training is compulsory for all applicants. Successful applicants will be awarded loans of between N250,000 and N50,000,000. The loan period is 5 years at an interest rate of 5 percent per annum. Loans will be offered free of collateral, and the projected goal is to create 500,000 jobs during this period.

Applications are welcome from both groups and individuals who meet the stringent requirements. These include proof of existing registered business, a training certificate, notarized guarantor forms, and Bank Verification Number. The application process is through the NYIF portal. Successful candidates are already receiving an admission letter. 

Reactions Trailing the Nigeria Youth Investment Fund

Since the NYIF Portal went live on 12th October, over a million applications have been received. However, a lot of young Nigerians are skeptical about the program. This is due to the prevalent corruption in the country. Also, there has been gross misappropriation of funds in past similar projects. However, no one ever gets convicted or jailed. 

Regardless of the divergent opinions, the establishment of the Nigeria Youth Investment Fund is a step in the right direction. Youth entrepreneurship is key for poverty eradication and economical progress. The resulting businesses will provide livelihoods for the business owners and their employees. Other African governments need to follow the lead and initiate schemes that will provide funding and support to young entrepreneurs.

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