New Naira Notes: CBN vows to address scarcity
Godwin Emefiele, CBN governor

BY EMEKA EJERE 

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is not leaving any stone unturned in harnessing the potentials of the youthful segment of the population in a bid to propel the country to its much-desired economic recovery and diversification

As part of efforts to encourage entrepreneurship among youths in the country, the CBN in November 2021, rolled out a scheme aimed at financing 25,000 graduate entrepreneurs annually, which will, in turn, create an additional 75,000 sustainable jobs annually across the country.

The loan scheme is for university and polytechnic graduates who are willing to set up businesses under the Tertiary Institutions Entrepreneurship Scheme (TIES), as part of its effort to fight rising unemployment in the country.

Nigeria’s rising youth unemployment has remained a source of concern to policy makers in the country. Certainly, rising unemployment fuels poverty and has largely been linked to rising incidence of civil unrest, criminalities and other vices that discourage investment.

According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), Nigeria’s unemployment rate rose to 33.3 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2020, translating to some 23.2 million people, the highest in at least 13 years and the second-highest rate in the world.

The figure had jumped from 27.1 per cent recorded in the second quarter (same year) amidst Nigeria’s lingering economic crisis made worse by the coronavirus pandemic.

Unemployment rate in the country has more than quadrupled since 2016 when the economy slipped into a recession. A second recession occurred in 2020.

Disturbingly, unemployment rate among young people (15 to 34 years), according to figures from the national statistical body, increased to 42.5 per cent from 34.9 percent while the rate of underemployment for the same age group declined to 21.0 percent from 28.2 percent.

According to the implementation guideline signed by Yusuf Yila Philip, CBN’s Director, Development Finance, the objective of the TIES is to enhance access to finance by undergraduates and graduates of polytechnics and universities in Nigeria with innovative entrepreneurial and technological ideas.

“The CBN, as part of its policy measures to address rising youth unemployment and underemployment, introduces the Tertiary Institutions Entrepreneurship Scheme (TIES) to create a paradigm shift among undergraduates and graduates of Nigerian polytechnics and universities, from seeking white-collar jobs to entrepreneurship,” the apex bank said.

“The scheme aims to provide an innovative financing model that will boost job creation, enhance entrepreneurship development, and support economic growth.”

The guideline further said start-ups and existing businesses in areas, such as agribusiness, information technology, creative industry, as well as science and technology are eligible for financing under the scheme.
It further noted that priority would be given to innovative entrepreneurial activities with high potentials for export, job creation and transformational impact.

The apex bank also explained that the scheme will be implemented through three components namely, term loan, equity investment and developmental components.

Under the term loan component, an individual project can access a maximum loan of N5 million with a five-year tenor and interest rate of five percent per annum (nine percent effective from March 1, 2022, or as may be prescribed by the CBN). For partnership/company projects, the loan is limited to N25 million.

“Applicants under the scheme shall be graduates of Nigerian polytechnics and universities with first-degree certificate (BSc/HND/ or its equivalent); National Youth Service Certificate (NYSC) discharge or exemption certificate; Certificate of Participation issued by polytechnics and universities evidencing entrepreneurship training; and not more than seven years post-NYSC,” the document reads.

The CBN added that the equity investment component shall be in the form of injection of fresh capital for start-ups, expansion of established businesses or reviving of ailing entrepreneurial businesses.

Another component of the intervention is the developmental component, which shall be disbursed in the form of grants to Nigerian polytechnics and universities in a national biennial entrepreneurship competition.
The apex bank said it would award N500 million worth of grants to five top Nigerian polytechnics and universities with the best entrepreneurial pitches/ideas. Only undergraduates of polytechnics and universities are eligible to participate under the developmental component.

“Five top Nigerian polytechnics and universities with the best entrepreneurial pitches/ideas shall be awarded as follows: first place – N150m; second place – N120m; third place – N100m; fourth place – N80m; and fifth place – N50m,” the document adds.

‘‘Interested applicants must apply on the dedicated online portal (https://cbnties.com.ng) and provide all the requisite documents to support the application.”

At the launch of the scheme in Abuja, CBN governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele also presented cheques ranging from N4 – N5 million to graduate entrepreneurs, whose proposals were found worthy of CBN’s financing under the pilot scheme. He charged the maiden beneficiaries of the TIES to utilise the loans for the purpose it was given.

Emefiele said TIES was conceived as part of measures to promote entrepreneurship development among Nigerian graduates and undergraduates, with the release of the implementation guidelines and the opening of a portal for submission of applications in October 2021.

“The scheme, developed in partnership with polytechnics and universities, is designed to harness the potentials 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,” he said.

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