Again, the Youth Empowerment Fund
In November, the federal government earmarked a N75 billion youth empowerment fund. The Minister of Youths and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, explained that the fund is billed to cater for youths within the age bracket of 18 and 35.
According to him, the fund “is meant to create a special window for accessing credit facilities and financing on the part of our youths that will help to fund their ideas, innovations and also support their enterprise.” He also stated that his Ministry would work with the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning and the Central Bank of Nigeria to facilitate youths’ access to the fund and thereby meet its set objectives.
Subsequently, the CBN (Central Bank of Nigeria) revealed the implementation framework for this fund – the “Nigerian Youth Investment Fund” (N-YIF). Beneficiaries and registered businesses are to be determined based on the nature of projects and subject to a maximum of N250,000 and N3 million respectively. The FG’s intervention will be for a maximum of 5 years, depending on the nature of the businesses and the assets acquired. An interest rate of not more than 5% will be charged annually.
When we considered this as news, we noted important questions as to the plausibility of the funding, its scope, assessment of beneficiaries, tracking of outcomes and so on. Covid-19 and fall in oil prices have taken their toll on Africa’s most populous nation. With Nigeria slipping into recession and food inflation skyrocketing, social and economic policies have never been this momentous. Before and after the youth empowerment fund, the Nigerian government introduced many other social programmes that target Micro, Small Medium Enterprises (MSMEs). We would now like to inform you about a few recent efforts. That’s the objective today. Welcome.
On Thursday, 10th December, the Federal Government disclosed that it is funding the registration for 250,000 Micro, Small Medium Enterprises (MSME). These businesses will be registered at zero cost, under the FG’s Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP). The disclosure was made by the Minister of Trade and Investment, Niyi Adebayo via the government’s Twitter handle. The Economic Sustainability Plan was formulated to drive the implementation of various support schemes for small businesses. A 10-man steering committee was inaugurated in August with members from both the public and private sectors.
In July, the Federal Government announced plans to disburse a N2.3 trillion stimulus package. It was titled the Nigerian Economic Sustainability Plan, and the purpose is to keep MSMEs afloat amid the economic challenges caused by the pandemic. The core of the program is a N75 billion Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) Survival Fund and Support Initiative. This initiative includes a N60 billion MSMEs Survival Fund and N15 billion Guaranteed Offtake.
The goal of the MSMEs Survival Fund is to support vulnerable micro and small enterprises in meeting their payroll obligations and ultimately safeguarding jobs. Through this Fund, the FG intends to save at least 1.3 million jobs and impact over 35,000 persons per state. Only MSMEs who have between 10 to 50 staff are qualified for the fund. Eligible enterprises will have their staff salary paid directly from the fund for 3 months. Meanwhile, the Guaranteed Offtake Stimulus Scheme is expected to boost the production capacities of small businesses in order to protect them from the economic disruptions of the Covid-19 pandemic.
In September, the FG released guidelines to access the schemes. Registration was opened to every sector, one after the other. Subsequently, the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment disclosed that a total of 174,574 persons successfully registered for both schemes within 48 hours. In October, 70,000 businesses were shortlisted from the 432,000 Nigerian businesses that applied for the payroll support. Subsequently, on 19th November, the Presidency announced that 101,567 beneficiaries, drawn from 16,253 businesses had received their first monthly payment from the program. The information was disclosed via the official Twitter handle of the President.
Special grant to rural women
The Grant for Rural Women was introduced as part of the President’s social inclusion and poverty reduction agenda. It is a part of the National Social Investment Programme, with a target of lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years. Way to go!
The grant was introduced by the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development and it involves a one-off grant to some of the poorest women in rural Nigeria. Through this grant, 700,000 women are to be empowered with N20,000 each.
The grants were launched in Plateau state and subsequently disbursed in Ondo state. In November, they went to women in rural areas of Gombe state. The Ministry disclosed this via Twitter. The Minister, Ms. Sadiya Umar Faroq, urged the women to use the grant to improve the lives of their families. No kidding.
Many other efforts are worthy of mention. In November, the Development Bank of Nigeria disclosed that it had disbursed over N150 billion since 2017, impacting MSMEs. The Twitter account of the Nigerian Government later revealed that 52% of these loans were to youths and women-owned businesses.
Well, this is all we have time for today. A lot is desirable about social policies in Nigeria. Again, the important questions – how does the government measure impact? Who are the beneficiaries? How exactly are beneficiaries vetted? Who can verify exactly where funding goes? Until these are answered, the FG may unveil policy after policy, with no tangible evidence of change.
Finally, do you know anyone that received any of the above funds? We would like to check something…