The Bank of Industry (BOI) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) on youth entrepreneurship to encourage self sufficiency among graduates and help entrench the culture of self-reliance and social responsibility on youths.
The Managing Director of the bank, Evelyn Oputu, at the signing ceremony explained that the bank was determined to drive the initiative and make a mark in the development of youths and the rural communities through the Village Renewal and SAED programmes, adding that it would give the needed support to any MDA that is willing to come up with initiatives that would develop Nigeria and its populace.
She noted that the signing of the MoU was basically to formalise and strengthen the partnership that started about ten months ago.
Oputu explained that a good number of Nigeria youths had ideas they wished to showcase but were in dilemma on how to go about bringing those ideas to laudable projects. According to her, “I had the passion to impact my community when I served, but I did not know how back then”.
She said that the level of work done in the NYSC skills acquisition centre had encouraged the bank to want to go into partnership with it, adding that the bank would not relent in its efforts to empower and equip youths in the urban cities as well as those dwelling in rural communities across the country.
“The quality of work done by corps members is amazing so we feel we were in a good position to add value to what NYSC is doing. We have always believed that Nigerians are relentless, but to harness these talents has always been the challenge.
“Given what NYSC have done with skill acquisition, we are sure that the bank can collaborate with the corps. We believe the young people have what it takes to change the lot of the country. We will be able to put hope in the young people and not only the rural dwellers alone.”
She added that BOI’s commitment to improving the value chain goes beyond the NYSC to cover its work with state governments, with 18 of them providing funds though the BOI to support small and medium scale enterprise development.
According to her: “We have MoU signed with 20 states government, with 18 of them giving us funds ranging from N100 million to N1 billion which we will lend to small businesses and the vulnerable group.”
Ms Oputu further said they approached the NYSC on the invitation of the director of SAED to participate in what they are doing. “We sent people and surprisingly the quality of products that came out of the corps members was amazing.”
Simon Ocheni, a corps member who was able to access a facility of N3.8m from the bank during his service year in 2012, said that he came up with a business idea of packaging Nigerian foods, starting with the packaging of garri, adding that he was able to set up a factory and he had never for one day thought of looking for job in any office.
Now with a factory in Lokoja, he advised serving corps members to leverage on the opportunity given by the bank and NYSC and take their eyes off the certificate they had acquired in their various institutions.
In his response, Director of the NYSC, Brigadier General Johnson Olawunmi said that the good vision the bank had towards the economic transformation of Nigeria had clearly shown that the country still had people who were committed to taking the country to the next level and giving hope to the youth who were the future of the country.
He said that the objectives of establishing NYSC of building up the youth and by extension the economy, give credence to the fact that Nigeria’s youth population, if given all the opportunities they require can attain any height they desired to attain.
The SAED, since inception, in 2012 has trained 245,000 corps members with only about one percent of them accessing funds to start up their business. The MOU is expected to boost the enthusiasm and interest demonstrated by corps members to develop skills for self-employment and contribute to the accelerated growth of the national economy.