Despite expanding its financing schemes to the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) sector as well as youth empowerment initiatives, the Bank of Industry (BoI) has unveiled plans to enhance its balance sheet as part of efforts to improve its intervention in the real sector.
According to the bank, most of its intervention schemes are being driven through the bank’s shareholders’ funds with efforts to attract funding from diverse sources for a more effective service delivery.
Speaking at the commencement of a capacity training program for the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members in Lagos, BoI’s Managing Director, Rasheed Olaoluwa noted that the bank, as part of its sustainability plan for intervention in different sectors, is exploring funding alternatives apart from its shareholders’ funds.
He said: “We are financing the Graduate Entrepreneurship Fund (GEF) scheme through the shareholders’ funds. We are a Development Finance Institution (DFI) and we need additional funds beyond the shareholders’ funds to enhance our intervention in the real sector. We are enhancing our balance sheet to attract funding for our products, both at the international and local levels”.
On the GET scheme, Olaoluwa noted that the BoI kicked off its the programme campaign to empower and generate young aspiring entrepreneurs to address youth unemployment in the country.
According to him, there is a need to address the capacity gap among budding entrepreneurs and deepen financial inclusion in the country by de-risking the NYSC members to be eligible for small business loans at a single digit interest rate to be provided by BoI to qualified corps members to further address the lingering unemployment challenges.
The BOI boss explained that to achieve the objectives of the initiative, the bank carried out a selection and screening process for about 1,000 NYSC members that will participate in the capacity building process through an online business ideas competition in a three day intensive entrepreneurship capacity building programme holding simultaneously in seven centres which includes Katsina, Plateau,Taraba, Osun, Delta, Abia and Lagos on generating a business idea (value proposition), how to run a profitable business (Business Model), basic financial record keeping, business plan preparation and the likes.
In his words: “The funding will be in form of loans to cover the cost of equipment and working capital requirement of the proposed projects. The loan to each beneficiary will be a maximum of N2 million administered at a single digit interest rate of 9 per cent per annum, with tenor ranging between 3 – 5 years.”
He said in ensuring sustainability of the businesses that will be supported under the GEF Programme, a support system has been set up to monitor and evaluate the scheme to enable BoI and NYSC to jointly track the business performances of GEF loan beneficiaries.
A mentoring scheme that will ensure that the GEF training facilitators and BOI’s accredited Business Development Service Providers (BDSPs) assist the participants in preparing their business plans as well as hand-hold them as they undertake their business ventures. Please rest assured that through the monitory and evaluation framework and feedback process, we shall continue to come up with measures that will ensure the success of the GEF Scheme.
I will like at this point, to congratulate all NYSC members that have decided to take advantage of the opportunity availed by the GEF Scheme through participation in the online business ideas competition that culminated into this workshop. This decision of yours attests to your readiness to embrace entrepreneurship as a ultimate viable alternative to job seeking,” he stressed.
Also speaking at the event, the Director General, NYSC, Brigadier-General, JB Olawumi, said the GEF training for qualified corps members to develop their skills through entrepreneurship would go a long way of creating wealth and national development for the economy.
The Director General who was represented by the Deputy Director, Skills Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development, Ologun Lanre, commended BoI for finding the NYSC a valuable partner in the arduous task of entrenching the culture of self-reliance and socio-economic change in the nation’s teeming unemployed youths.
He said in several determined efforts to establish a rapport with key organisations to fulfil the Skill, Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development (SAED) mandate, NYSC did not hesitate to extend invitation to many identified stakeholders in entrepreneurship development and industrial growth.
The State Coordinator, NYSC Lagos State, Akhanemhe Cyril, said the BoI has taken very concrete steps to ensure that young men and women with viable business ideas have access to loans at a single digit interest rate.
“Overtime, before the intervention of BoI, we have had corps members who because of paucity of fund cannot put their ideas into action. We are very grateful to the BOI for coming to the rescue of these youths. The earlier these youth begin to actualise their dreams, the better. I am sure that when the history of industrialisation of this country will be written, the BOI will not be forgotten. The Corp members must utilise this platform.
A key facilitator of the product programme, Leap Africa, Mrs. Ndifereke Okwuegbunan, said the training will give corps members the opportunity to access loans from the DFI for which most people do not have access.
I advise youth corps members to take full advantage of this opportunity. There is going to be an intensive group work to ensure we carry the corps members along. You are a few out of the lot that has chosen this path. It is a difficult path but you have all taken the first step to actually make it a success. This training is aimed making you a better person with or without the loan. It will help Corp members to run their businesses sustainably and successfully. If you take this loan apply it to your businesses, you will go places and will be celebrated in the future,” she said.