As part of its efforts towards rapid industrial acceleration of the country, the Bank of Industry (BOI) recently in Lagos entered into partnership with Afterschool Graduate Development Centre (AGDC) and First Bank to empower fresh graduates not only on skills acquisition, but also with start-off loans.
Acting MD, BOI, Mr Waheed Olagunju, stated that the bank was willing to partner with any organisation that will add value to what the bank is doing.
He said; “As a DFI there is no way we can cover the entire country, hence, we collaborate with development partners including both domestic and foreign partners that are in private and public sectors and the Afterschool Graduate Development Centre (AGDC), happens to be a private sector initiative while the First bank happens to be a private commercial bank. They are also one of the SME friendly partner banks in the BOI.
“Our Graduate Entrepreneurship Fund (GEF) which we launched in 2015 has been highly successful. This is why we have launched the Youth Entrepreneurship Support Programme (YESP) in March last year and based on what we have received from our development centres, we are now fine-tuning the terms and conditions of YESP. BOI is a CBN licensed retailed development finance institution.
Olagunju assured that BOI will continue to review the terms and conditions of our youth programme including YES P without necessarily violating the guidelines of the CBN and credit policy of the BOI, adding that he will continue to undertake any initiative that will stimulate production.
According to him, “The more we are able to invest in potentially viable projects that can be sustainable, the better for the country.”
He noted that the two bottom lines mainly include financial viability and developmental impact stressing that developmental impact of job creation, import substitution and export generation was the bank’s major concern.
He pointed out that BOI will finance projects that can earn foreign exchange for Nigeria, saying that Nigerian youths are quite imaginative and highly talented.
The DFI Boss said; “We are going to do everything possible to continue to support them, build their capacity, train them and make suitable single digit, highly concessional financing available to them.
“In 2017 precisely, we are going to carry out another study to measure the impact we have made across board in terms of the investments in different sectors of the economy, MSMEs, large enterprises, projects financed by women and the locations of those projects and before the end of the year, we should be able to come out with those statistics, contributions that have been made by these projects to national development by way of increase in capacity utilisation in the manufacturing sector, job creation and also exports in terms of foreign exchange generated.”
Earlier in her speech, Mrs Ibukun Awosika, Chairman, First Bank stated that they are at the point of building the future of the nation, explaining that when you have an environment where 65 percent of able bodied young people are out of work, no one would be able to sleep.
She said; “We need to think of growing businesses in the future, so our commitment to this initiative is first to support nation building, support transforming the lives. It is so critical to our nation building, build new generation of businesses that will be our customers in the future.
“For any country in the world to achieve economic growth it must prioritise developmental efforts towards small businesses. Small businesses represent about 60 percent of the economy and also the largest employer of jobs in the country. Until we have what is an all-inclusive development such that we are converting the mind and the strength of the large part of our population into value, we cannot have real growth and this is what project like this will do.