The Federal Government on Monday said it will create about 50,000 new jobs and 6,000 young entrepreneurs within the next three years with the launch of the Youth Enterprise with Innovation in Nigeria, YOU WIN, project.
The project is a youth empowerment and entrepreneurship program, conceived by the Federal Ministry of Finance in conjunction with the Federal Ministry of Communication and Technology, Federal Ministry of Youth Development, the private sector and the World Bank. It will be launched by President Goodluck Jonathan at an event with over 2,000 youths in Abuja.
The Minister for Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, said the main objective of the project is to generate jobs by encouraging and supporting aspiring entrepreneurial youth in Nigeria to develop and execute business ideas that will lead to job creation.
According to her, “The program will provide aspiring youth with a platform to showcase their business acumen, skills and aspirations to business leaders, investors and mentors in Nigeria.”
Okonjo-Iweala explained that the You WIN project will be an annual Business Plan Competition, BPC, for aspiring young entrepreneurs, in line with the Federal Government’s drive to create more jobs for Nigerians.
She noted that the program will be launched simultaneously in the six zones in Nigeria to enable youths in all states participate, adding that it is targeted at Nigerian youth with well-developed and new business concept, or innovation/expansion plan for an existing enterprise.
She said the government has selected the Lagos Business School to conduct the first round of screenings for the business plan submissions as well as coordinate trainings and mentor-ships.
She added that a six-member panel of judges, comprising reputable business leaders and experts drawn from the private sector, has been appointed in each geographical zone to validate and audit the screening process by the business school at each stage of the competition.
In the competition which will be held annually over the next three years, Okonjo-Iweala said that the winning entries will be a mix of start-ups and existing enterprises that are looking to expand, while the final awards will be a gradation of from N1million to N10 million, with the awards categories being Best innovator / New Idea, Best product, Best Business Plan, Best Corporate Social Responsibility and Best Overall Entrant.
“At the end of the three-year period, the federal government said the target is to have 3,600 entrepreneurs supported to start or expand their business concepts over three years; an additional 1,800 – 2,000 business started or expanded by youth trained by the program; 40,000 to 50,000 sustainable new jobs for currently unemployed Nigerian youth over three years; at least 6,000 aspiring youth entrepreneurs trained in business planning and management and at least 3,600 entrepreneurs linked with mentors in the business community,” she explained.
The Minister of Youth Development, Bolaji Abdullahi, also said, “Those figures, as encouraging as they are, are in fact just a start. For us, as a facilitating ministry for the youth population, the question of providing an atmosphere and the right environment for youth entrepreneurship to flourish is of utmost importance.”