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SME Funding for Nigerian University Graduates Underway – CBN Governor

Graduates from Nigerian universities will soon have access to low-cost loans to support their small businesses and will have the opportunity to expand and become employers of labour, the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has promised. Godwin Emefiele made the promise at the 51st Convocation ceremonies at the University of Lagos on Monday, July 5, 2021.

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He said the framework is designed by  CBN’s development finance department to support youth entrepreneurship which will work in conjunction with Nigerian universities management.

According to him, the plan is aimed at stimulating entrepreneurship in Nigerian university graduates.

Is it the first time CBN will be intervening in SME programme?

No. Nigeria’s apex bank has been rolling out loads of SME-friendly funding programme, but most times, they are hijacked by the political class.

In the past, such funds hardly get to the hands of those who basically need funds to support their businesses.

It however worthy of note that after the COVID-19 pandemic, thousands of Nigerian SMEs and individuals had benefited from the covid-19 loan, courtesy of the CBN. Private schools, farmers, SMEs, households, and several others have benefited from the CBN-funded loans.

Some of CBN funding intervention programs are:

  • Targeted Credit Facility (TCF)
  • SME Credit Guarantee Scheme (SMECGS);
  • Nigeria Youth Investment Fund (NYIF).
  • Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Fund (MSMEDF)
  • Agri-business/Small and Medium Enterprises Investment Scheme (AGSMEIS);
  • Creative Industry Financing Initiative (CIFI)
  • Youth Entrepreneurship Development Programme (YEDP)
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Under the YEDP, at least N173.4 million has been disbursed to over 67 beneficiaries across Nigeria.

Target beneficiaries of YEDP are:

  • Member National Youth Service Corps (NYSC),
  • Non-NYSC with not more than five years post-NYSC
  • Holders of verifiable tertiary institution certificates
  • Artisans with First School Leaving Certificate or a technical certificate or accredited proficiency certificate from the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE).

How young Nigerian graduates can access capital

Emefiele who spoke on the topic: “National Development and Knowledge Economy in the Digital Age: Leapfrogging SMEs in the 21st Century,” said youths can access funding like the N75 billion Nigerian Youth Investment Fund and  Creative Industry Financing Initiative (CIFI) to kick start and support their businesses.

The Nation Newspaper quoted him as saying, “I must confess that given the population growth rate, and a large number of our graduating students, we need to begin to see how Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) can be incubated.

“The SMEs are the ones that develop and grow to large corporates and become great companies in the future.

“Going from this lecture today, we would like to see more universities, to begin to conduct sort of entrepreneurship development competition programme.”

He told the graduands that there are several untapped opportunities,saying Nigeria’s government is ready to support graduates who is ready to go into farming and make a significant contribution to the Gross Domestic Product of Nigeria, stating that agriculture is one of the most profitable businesses.

He said as part of CBN’s drive to support the agro-sector, the apex bank had loaned at least N10 billion to people for rice cultivation.

“The proceeds from the farm was used to repay the loan, and at the end of the day, they made profit of another N10 billion.”

Agriculture is profitable in Nigeria, he said.

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Recalled that under NYIF which is designed to improve access to finance for youth and youth-owned enterprises for national development, N2.04billion has been disbursed to 7,057 beneficiaries. Out of that number, 4,411 were individuals and 2,646 SMEs.

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