Winners will access funds within 72 days

By Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

Over 500 applications were received from Nigerians in the Diaspora among the 24,000 who applied to participate in the Federal Government youth entrepreneurship programme, YOUWIN.

Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala disclosed this at an agreement signing ceremony between the Federal Ministry of Finance, Youth Development and ICT and participating banks, in Abuja, on Wednesday.

The huge interest shown by the applicants at home and abroad, the Minister said, was a vote of confidence on the programme by Nigerian youths.

YOUWIN was launched in October last year by President Goodluck Jonathan to provide jobs for 80,000 and 100,000 unemployed youths.

The jobs will be created through businesses created by the 3,600 youths with brilliant business ideas who will be identified through YOUWIN and directly supported to realize their entrepreneurial ideas over the next three years.

At the signing ceremony were representatives of the 6,000 applicants selected on merit from the 24,000 applications received. The eventual winners will receive between one million to ten million naira, training, support for equity in their business, introduction to banks for additional credit and mentoring.

The minister thanked the participating banks, development partners, including the World Bank and DFID as well as SMEDAN, Bank of Industry and some private sector organisations, for their financial and other support for YOUWIN.

Minister of State for Finance, Dr Yerima Ngama urged participants in the programme to make the best use of the opportunity in order to encourage others while urging the sponsors not to waiver in their support.

Representative of the participating banks, Mr Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, MD of Access Bank throwing more light into banks' equity contribution, said participants can access their funds within 72 hours of qualification and at zero charges

He said banks will add value to YOUWIN by providing volunteers and mentoring and provide an opportunity for the banking industry to engage a segment of the population normally excluded from banking activities.

Spokesperson for the participants, Mr Henry Eyo said he and his colleagues were excited in YOUWIN because it affords them an opportunity to fund their aspirations.

“It is a new feeling having government listening to people who have business ideas. This programme is very rich and there is much more to gain than finance. We have acquired confidence and the skill to develop an idea that can sell. We are glad to belong to the group of Nigerians who believe that this programme will work”, he said.

Paul C Nwabuikwu