The National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) has received N3.6 billion in start-up loans from the Bank of Industry (BoI) and partner banks to boost the NYSC Skills Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development (SAED) program.

The industrial bank made the announcement at the 2021 NYSC-SAED festival closing ceremony in Abuja on Friday.

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“So far, BOI and other partners have donated N3.6 billion in setup loans to over 1000 beneficiaries,” according to BoI.

“Despite the obvious challenges in the business environment, several measures have been put in place, such as inflation of market negatives for an improved framework for effective project monitoring.”

Aisha Muhammadu Buhari, the Special Guest of Honour, urged captains of industry and financial institutions to provide more credit and venture capital to corps members and entrepreneurs.

Mrs. Buhari, who was represented by the Vice-wife, President’s Mrs. Dolapo Osinbajo, said: “I am especially delighted that the NYSC has sustained the SAED Festival since its inaugural edition in 2017.”

“This demonstrates that the scheme has continued to play an important role in nation-building in its 48 years of existence.”

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Promoting national unity, integration, and providing manpower for critical sectors of the economy have all been part of this role.

The SAED’s current focus on youth entrepreneurship has raised the scheme’s relevance to new heights.

“I urge industry leaders and financial institutions to expand access to credit and venture capital for these service members and entrepreneurs.”

The corps members’ level of skill and the quality of their products demonstrated during the festival that Nigeria has the manpower to grow in leaps and bounds.

“I applaud the NYSC Director-General, Brig-Gen. Shuaibu Ibrahim, and the scheme’s management for their tenacity in ensuring the scheme’s relevance through the SAD program.”

In addition, the Director General of the NYSC, Gen. Ibrahim, stated that over 1.4 million Corps members have been educated on the importance of self-empowerment.

He went on to say that 764,677 people have completed the full skills and entrepreneurship training, and that up to 18,682 people have started businesses using self-help, bank loans, and grants.

“With the help of partners like the Bank of Industry, we’ve kept moving forward in our efforts to ensure the program’s success.”

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Access Bank, Unity Bank, Leventis Foundation Nigeria, British-America Tobacco Foundation, and a long list of others are just a few examples.

“Parts of the benefits of our collaborations include financial grants and loans to Corps members for the implementation of their business plans, as well as the establishment of zonal skill training centers across the country.”

“I am pleased to report to this gathering that successive batches of Corps members have shown more than a passing interest in the SAED program.

Gen. Shuaibu enumerated the challenges facing SAED, saying:

“As we celebrate our achievements today, I will not overlook the fact that implementing SAED is not without its challenges.”

The lack of training logistics and limited funding opportunities are two of the most significant. Only a small percentage of these Corps entrepreneurs have access to start-up capital.

“This influenced the proposal to establish the National Youth Service Corps Trust Fund in part” (NYSCTF).

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“Aside from assisting with the provision of adequate operational infrastructure for the Scheme’s success, the Fund will make the SAED program more impactful, particularly through the provision of training logistics and start-up funds to help Corps entrepreneurs realize their business plans.”

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