Abuja - President Goodluck Jonathan on Monday in Abuja appealed to international development partners and the private sector to support the Federal Government’s effort at creating jobs for the youth.
The President made the call at the launch of the Second Phase of the Youth Enterprise with Innovation in Nigeria (YouWin) programT The second pehase of YouWin launched at the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa was targeted at young women entrepreneurs. The President said the second phase was initiated to focus on harnessing the brilliant ideas, innovative acumen and drive that vibrant young Nigerian women possessed.
He said 1,200 award winners would be selected across the six geo-political zones, in which each beneficiary would receive between N1 million to N10 million in addition to other training programmes.
Jonathan called on relevant stakeholders including international development partners and the private sector to join hands with government in the execution of the programme.
“I urge all stakeholders including our youths and their leaders in the private sector as well as international and development partners to join hands with us as we expand this laudable initiative and give fresh hope to our young people.
“People may ask why the government talks about YouWin, of course we know that the present administration is committed to creating jobs for Nigerians.
“And jobs could be created through direct employment by government and her parastatals and agencies; but, we believe that a more sustainable approach to job creation is encouraging the private sector.
“And to do that, we need to build young entrepreneurs that will be able to employ five or more people and that multiplier effect will give us more job opportunities than even government expanding the parastatals that will make them less productive.
“That is one of the cardinal points of YouWin.
The President said after the First Phase in which both men and women benefitted, attention was focused on women in the Second Phase in line with the global trend on empowerment of women and children.
“We must come up with programmes that will help women and protect and save lives of children, that is, at the UN level. So, we must do things that other nations will copy (from) us: we should not only be copying from others.”
Jonathan explained that women were better managers in terms of using little money to create opportunities.
He admonished the beneficiaries of the programme to make judicious use of the funds when made available to them and gave the assurance that the process of selection of beneficiaries would be transparent.
He also said that the selection process would be devoid of the usual “godfatherism’’ syndrome.
Speaking earlier, the Minister of Finance and the Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, recalled that the maiden edition of YouWin Business Plan competition was inaugurated in Oct. 2011.
She said the programme, which was aimed at attracting ideas and innovations from Nigerian youth entrepreneurs, had progressed well and yielded fruitful results.
“Since disbursement commenced in July, about 933 of the 1200 beneficiaries of the first batch of YouWin award winners have received the first tranche of about N1,03 billion of their award funds and are already implementing their approved business plans.
“The few yet to receive their own funds will do so by the end of next week.
“As we will hear from some of the awardees today, many are already creating jobs for fellow youths as a result of their YouWin grants.”
She said with the assistance of the DFID of the UK and SMEDAN, government had developed a mechanism for capturing information on jobs created under the scheme, and would be reporting the numbers to the public on regular basis.
The minister disclosed that the second edition of the programme would identify 1,200 young female entrepreneurs to join the first cohort as YouWin awardees.
Also, the Minister of Communication Technology, Mrs Omobola Johnson, said the process of selecting awardees was made up of three stages – the launch; the evaluation; and the final selection stages.
“During the first stage, which starts today, please look out for adverts in the mass media. Talking about the application process, what you need to do at this stage is to log on to the website, to register.
“You will submit the summary of the business concepts; these summaries will then be assessed and the selection process will be done over a period of about six weeks from today – the 3rd of September.
“Check that you are eligible – between the ages of 18 and 40 years – and please make sure you stand out. Your application must be innovative, unique, feasible, practical and must have the potential for job creation.’’
The Minister of Women Affairs, Hajia Salamatu Maina, said the programme heralded another landmark of the administration’s quest to economically empower the Nigerian women, particularly the young females.
She called on women with business ideas to maximize the opportunity by bringing up innovative business proposals that would qualify them for thee grant.
Giving live testimonials of the programme, three of the YouWin awardees said they had used the first tranche of the fund released to them to develop their businesses.
The awardees said they were initially skeptical that the selection process would not be based on merit but on “godfatherism’’.
They commended government for adopting a level playing ground in the selection process.
One of the awardees, Mrs Aderonke Oyetuniji, said she was into production and packaging of instant pounded yam flour.
She said the impact of the YouWin grant on her business was enormous having used the first tranche of the fund to procure an automated sealing and packaging machine with Nylon pouch that is compliant to international standard.
“Before the YouWin intervention, I had only one staff working in the company, doing the procurement of raw materials, doing production and marketing and that was me.
“Now, the staff strength has increased to three and the casual staff has increased from zero to six people on a daily basis.
“By the end of September, three more staff are expected to join the company making the number of employees to be six.’’
She gave an assurance that the government, on behalf of others, would use the funds made available judiciously to achieve the goals of the programme.