In bridging unemployment gap among the youth, Mastercard Foundation in collaboration with Enterprise Development Centre (EDC), since last year has commenced training of Nigerian youths with a view to creating a minimum of 200,000 jobs in the next five years.
The director, Enterprise Development Centre (EDC), Pan-Atlantic University Mr. Peter Bankole, who revealed this on Monday said that the program is to train 200,000 Nigerian youths, over a period of five years.
He stated that the whole idea of this initiative is “…as we train and build their capacity, we will equally support them and at the end of the day, they will create at least another 200,000 jobs.”
Bankole said it is a free training program aimed to boost employment creation and sustainable livelihoods, saying that “This program is open to all and is primarily focused on Lagos, Kano, and Kaduna states. Through this program, 40,000 young people will be supported with the resources and learning required to start, grow, and expand their businesses every year for the next five years.
He said: “The program will also provide support and resources to young people who want to become employable in the creative and agricultural sectors.
According to him: “… the idea is that as we train them and build their capacity, we will equally support them as they create a minimum of 200,000 jobs…the programme has so far been transformational. They people present today are a very small segment of over 10,000 that have already benefitted from this programme and we urge Youths who are yet to join this programme to please get on board, go on http://reg.smetoolkit.ng/
He assured that: “This programme will transform you, help you get the knowledge and even more than that, we will support you to make small and big milestones in your growth plan…and after that, you will also have access to funding as we already have partners to get that sorted…Sterling Bank is one of our key partners and for those in Lagos we have the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF) as well…the financing will be on 9% interest rate per annum, which is very good and will only be ,made available when u have attended this programme…”
Also, Country head of Mastercard Foundation in Nigeria, Chidinma Lawanson, said “This initiative will prepare and enable young people to pursue their aspirations and create productive livelihoods for themselves and others.”
She noted that “We at Mastercard Foundation, are very strong on capacity building and financial inclusion. So, we have had interventions across more than 100 countries but in 2016, when we clocked 10 years, we went through an internal strategy to come up with what we called Young Africa Works strategy, which is unlocking employment and entrepreneurship opportunities for 30 million young Africans by the year 2030.”
She stated that “All the indices in Nigeria shows that if you want to target the youth, age 18-35 , agriculture is a strong area for Nigeria, which creates about 60 per cent work opportunities. There are a lot of value chains in the agricultural spectrum and the second space where the youths really want to be is the creative industry and they are the second largest employer of labour for youth in Nigeria.
“We look at partners who can implement on our behalf, because the foundation does not implement, so we look for credible partners who have the expertise to train youths. Now this transforming youth project with EDC is for five years and we collaborate with them, with their expertise and learning modules and we can boldly say, so far, so good, with the growth and trend we have experienced.
Also, executive secretary of Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF), Teju Abisoye said that Lagos State government mandate is to tackle unemployment, saying that unemployment rate is Nigeria is 40 per cent and Lagos alone has 7.14 per cent, which was estimated to over seven million people to be out of job,
She noted that this calls for urgent attention, saying that “Our job is how do we strategically deal with unemployment issues and tackle poverty, and we have been doing a lot on this in reducing unemployment rate.”
“We will continue to represent a credible pipeline of people that can get access to funding and see how we can create a program or a process that is much faster. So as soon as you are done with your program, the funding is almost automatic, as long as you bring the required processes required.”
According to her, the grant ranges from N50,000 to N5 million depending on the nature of the business. “We are excited about this initiative, supporting businesses in the next five years for residents and those based in Lagos state is very exciting to us.”
The deputy director, Programmes, NYSC Skill Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development (SAED), Mrs Rachel Idaewor stated that NYSC entered into skill acquisition and entrepreneurship development in 2012 because “We realized that there was a need for a skill acquisition and entrepreneurship department…When we started, we have partnerships with various organisations. EDC approached us in 2020 and it has been a transforming programme and we are positive that this partnership will enable Corp members to have access to first class training in entrepreneurship,” she said.
Mastercard Foundation and the Enterprise Development Centre (EDC) launched the Transforming Nigerian Youths program in 2020 and applications are open for young Nigerians, especially women within the age range of 18 to 35.