By EMEKA EJERE

The Youth Entrepreneurship Support (YES) programme is an ambitious programme by the Bank of Industry (BOI) aimed at addressing youth unemployment in Nigeria which is currently over 50%.

According to a 2013 survey by the Nigerian Institute of Social and Economic Research (NISER), most of the capacity building programmes aimed at addressing youth unemployment, have concentrated more on training without any tie-in to the provision of small business loans, which is a critical success factor to the establishment of small businesses. In addition, they hardly take care of the entire training value chain in terms of Entrepreneurship, Business Management and Technical Skills.

BOI’s approach to tackling the youth capacity building challenge is to focus on young aspiring entrepreneurs within the age bracket of 18 – 35 years that have viable business ideas by developing a Product Program – Youth Enterprise Support Programme (YES Programme), for empowering them. This crop of Nigerians forms a significant proportion of unemployed youth in the country.

In other words, the YES Programme is BOI’s effort at addressing the worrisome phenomenon of youth unemployment in Nigeria by building the capacity of the youths and funding their business ideas. The YES programme is aimed at equipping young people with the requisite skills and knowledge to be self-employed by starting and managing their own businesses.

Established in October, 2001, from the former NIDB, with expanded roles, BOI is largely a state owned DFI charged with the responsibility of promoting the emergence of a virile industrial sector. In other words, BOI was conceived to catalyze the transformation of the real sector.

The bank has a mandate of providing financial assistance for establishment of large, medium and small enterprises; as well as expansion, diversification and modernization of existing enterprises and rehabilitation of ailing industries

Its vision is to be a leading self-sustaining Development Finance Institution, operating under sound management and banking principles that would promote the emergence and development of a virile competitive industrial sector in Nigeria.

The mission is to transform Nigeria’s industrial sector and integrate it into the global economy by providing financial and business support services to existing and new industries to attain modern capabilities to produce goods that are competitive in both domestic and external markets.

Components of the YES Programme

The YES Programme comprises the following components:

  • Eight weeks of intensive online Entrepreneurship and Business Management training which has the ability to test participants’ understanding and track their progress.
  • Five days in-class Entrepreneurship and Business Management training
  • Technical skills training in partnership with the various technical training and vocational institutes in the country.
  • Financing the businesses by BOI under its SME Cluster initiative in consonance with the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa’s Commodity-based Industrialisation Strategy.

Objectives

The YES Programme has the following broad objectives:

  • To create an interactive learning platform to train young aspiring entrepreneurs in entrepreneurship and business management that will ultimately translate into improved efficiency and productivity.
  • To kindle the entrepreneurial spirit of the youths.
  • To act as an incubation centre where business ideas are nurtured to their full potential as well as entrenching global best practices by inculcating a culture of innovation-driven entrepreneurship and ethics in the programme participants.
  • Promotion of self-employment among graduates of institutions of higher learning, thereby changing their job-seeking mindset.
  • To deepen financial inclusion by de-risking the young aspiring entrepreneurs and making them eligible for small business loans to be provided by BOI.

Accessing the funds

Step 1 – Check Your Eligibility: Prospective applicants are expected to check that they are qualified to apply by going through the section “Who can apply?” below.

Step 2 – Register: Upon ensuring eligibility, those who are yet to register should then register. They will receive a confirmation email from YES Programme with all the details they will need to log in.

Step 3 – Complete Application: Once they have successfully registered, they are to log in and click the “Start Application” button on the Start Application Tab on this page. To return to their application, they are to click the “save and continue” button and come back to it at any time. Once they are done with their application, they are to click on the “Submit” button at the end of the form to send it to YES Programme. Applicants can submit only one application per “application cycle” (typically 3-4 months).

Step 4 – Keep Informed

After the closing date, applicants will be notified if they have been shortlisted for the next stage of the competition. They are strongly advised to constantly check the YES Programme home page for regular updates

Who Can Apply?

To be eligible for the competition a prospective applicant must satisfy the following criteria:

  1. The applicant must be a Nigerian.
  2. Must have a viable business idea within the 34 identified clusters that is operated, or will operate in Nigeria.
  3. Must be within the age limits of 18 and 35. (Proof of identity: International passport/Drivers license/National ID/Voters card required).
  4. Must possess a minimum educational qualification of Ordinary National Diploma (OND).
  5. Applicant must be able to carry out the application process online.

Operational framework

Ten thousand (10,000) online applications will be solicited nationwide, out of which 2,000 would be selected for the online training component of the YES programme.

Applicants will register online and will be expected to provide accurate answers to questions. Such answers count towards determining the suitability of the applicants for the training programme. Only the top 1,200 online participants will qualify for the in-class training programme annually.

The in-class trainings will be delivered by BOI accredited partner Training Institutes and shall take place on a bi-annual basis at selected centres spread across the six geo-political zones. Hence, 600 participants shall be trained at the designated locations bi-annually.

The final evaluation and selection of the candidates that will qualify for funding under the YES-Programme, will be by a seven-man panel made up of senior management staff of the bank and other eminent members made up of successful entrepreneurs, professionals, retired bankers among others.