The Central Bank of Nigeria is collaborating with the Empowerment Support Initiative, a non-governmental organisation, to provide soft loans to about 1,000 entrepreneurs across the country.
Beneficiaries are to use the CBN facility to develop their businesses after being trained by ESI in various skill acquisition programmes, including on cosmetology, building construction, automobile engineering, fashion designing, hospitality, tourism etc.
Speaking at an event to commemorate the 10th anniversary of ESI in Abuja on Friday, the organisation’s Founder, Judith Amaechi, said the 1,000 entrepreneurs were shortlisted by the CBN and would start getting the loans from next week.
She also explained that with the assistance from local and international donors, the ESI had been able to train youths in diverse entrepreneurial skills, adding that among the 6,000 individuals who had been trained by the NGO, the apex bank decided to support 1,000 with loans.
Amaechi stated, “We’ve come to realise that many young entrepreneurs find it tough to raise start-up capital and this is why the ESI is grateful for the support of the CBN and others who have been supporting us as we train Nigerian youths and women.
“With this soft loan from the bank, we believe the beneficiaries can be able to start up and run their businesses, while we provide further guidance in our capacity and wish them well. The 1,000 beneficiaries were drawn from about 6,000 people that we have trained in various skills.
“Our job was to screen them. The CBN will disburse the loans to the beneficiaries directly and also help them to set up their businesses. Being a bank and not a charity organisation, the CBN will be able to monitor the loans. And I must add that this collaboration with the CBN is a huge milestone for ESI.”
She noted that the programme was targeted at less privileged citizens across the country and was without political affiliations.
“This initiative goes beyond political affiliations; we have structured our training programmes in such a way that any member of the community where our education or skill acquisition centre is located and is interested to participate, is free to do so,” Amaechi added.