By Etuka Sunday
The Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele, has formally launched the Tertiary Institutions Entrepreneurship Scheme (TIES), with a charge to beneficiaries to utilize the loans for the purpose it was meant for, just as he inaugurated an 11-member Body of Experts to oversee the screening of prospective beneficiaries of the scheme aimed at tackling unemployment and underemployment among Nigerian youth.
Performing the launch at the Bank’s Head Office in Abuja on Thursday, November 25, 2021, Mr. Emefiele disclosed that the formal launch of the TIES and inauguration of the Body of Experts (BoE) for the Scheme’s Developmental Component underscored the critical roles youth play in building new blocks for economic growth, particularly as the country’s national growth was highly dependent on a strong and competitive businesses.
He said the scheme was developed in partnership with Nigerian polytechnics and universities, to harness the potential of graduate entrepreneurs by creating a paradigm shift from the pursuit of white-collar jobs to a culture of entrepreneurship for economic development and job creation.
“Bridging their financing gaps and enhancing access to low-cost credit to drive development of business is a task that can only be addressed by an innovative financing model that correlates with the complexity and dynamics of these small businesses,” he posited.
According to him, the TIES was designed to address three verticals – the Term Loan component, the Equity Investment component and the Development Grant Component.
While the Term Loan component provides direct credit opportunities to graduates of Nigerian polytechnics and universities of not more than seven years post-graduation; the Equity Investment Component is designed to support start-ups, existing businesses requiring expansion, and ailing businesses seeking resuscitation.
The third vertical – Developmental Grant Component – is aimed at raising awareness and visibility of entrepreneurship among undergraduates of Nigerian tertiary institutions. Under this vertical, polytechnics and universities in Nigeria are expected to compete in a national biennial entrepreneurship competition where undergraduates are presented by the tertiary institutions to pitch.
Given the huge number of graduates from tertiary institutions in the country without the commensurate employment opportunities in both the public and private sectors, Emefiele said it had become imperative that government, at all levels, puts in place policy measures to support entrepreneurial development among Nigerian youth.
He therefore charged the different tiers of government to play their respective roles in creating an enabling business ecosystem that supports innovation and enables the youth to unleash their entrepreneurial potential.
Recalling the glory days in the country’s educational system, the CBN Governor urged all stakeholders to join the campaign to restore glory to Nigeria’s educational sector reminiscent of when tertiary institutions “churned out graduates, not only ready and able to provide real solutions to the various challenges emanating from their immediate environment and even beyond, but who could compete favourably with their counterparts around the world”
On the part of the Bank, he assured that the CBN remained committed to supporting entrepreneurship by offering youth entrepreneurs access to much-needed finance, which he identified as one of the major limiting factors to entrepreneurship development in Nigeria.
Similarly, he declared the unrelenting commitment of the Bank to supporting the country’s educational sector in all ramifications, noting that wholesome development shall remain a mirage without a robust educational sector.
Highpoint of the ceremony was the presentation of symbolic cheques to the five maiden beneficiaries of the TIES: Ukpabi Chukwudi, Simeon Ojonugwa Ojogbane, Aisha Suleiman, Nura Muhammad Abdullahi, Zainab Muhammad, and Adebowale Olawuyi, who were among those who submitted their applications via the dedicated portal and had their applications processed.
While stressing that the scheme was a loan and not a grant, Mr. Emefiele assured other institutions not currently included in the scheme, that their institutions would be brought on board.
He therefore charged youth to take up the challenge by applying innovative and creative thinking in providing solutions capable of creating wealth and value for themselves and the country at large.
Another highpoint was the inauguration of the Body of Experts (BoE) for the for the Scheme’s Developmental Component chaired by Mr. Abubakar Suleiman, Chief Executive Officer Sterling Bank PLC.
The BoE, which comprises professionals drawn from the academia, professional bodies, and industry, was constituted to evaluate and rank entrepreneurial presentations made by tertiary institutions under the Developmental (Grant) Component. It is expected to recommend projects with high potential and transformational impact for grant awards.
Other members of the Body of Experts include Mr. Patrick Iyamabo Group Chief Financial Officer First Bank PLC; Mr. Adamu Lawani, General Manager Zenith Bank PLC, and Ms. Ngover Ihyembe-Nwankwo General Manager, Coverage Rand Merchant Bank Nigeria.
Also, on the committee are Mr. Ashafa Ladan, the Ag. Director, Skills Development & Entrepreneurship National Universities Commission (NUC); Engr. Abbati D. K. Muhammad Director, Vocational, Technical and Skills Development National Board for Technical Education (NBTE); and Dr. Friday Okpara, Director, Partnership and Coordination Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency (SMEDAN).
Ms. Bolanle Adekoya, a Partner at PwC Nigeria; Mr. Tope Fasua, Chief Executive Officer Global Analytics Consulting Limited; Brigadier-General Folusho Oyinlola, Director, Coordination National Defence College; and Mrs. Temitope Akin-Fadeyi, Associate Head, Strategy & Policy Development Finance Department Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), who acts as Secretary, make up the 11-member committee.
Also speaking at the launch, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Boss Mustapha urged tertiary institutions to ensure the use of merit for the selection of beneficiaries of the scheme.
Similarly, the Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajuiba expressed the full support of the Ministry for the TIES, stressing the need for a major paradigm shift from the pursuit of white-collar jobs to entrepreneurship.