The progress recorded at the various Entrepreneurship Development Centres, midwifed by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in different zones in the country has shown that the challenges to Nigeria’s efforts to become the economic hub of Africa by the year 2020 are surmountable by interventions like this, reports Festus Akanbi
One basic challenge to successive administrations in Nigeria is the need to create adequate employment opportunity to the populace, especially the youths.
However, development experts said emphasis all over the world is being placed on the development of entrepreneurial spirit in the youths in view of the limitations of government to employ everybody undisputed lack of vacancy for white collar jobs.
Analysts said, the need to ingrain in the youths the spirit of entrepreneurship is underscored by the growing population and the attendant social crisis in a country like Nigeria.
So, when the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) came with the idea of Entrepreneurship Development Centre, the peculiar nature of Nigeria’s labour market and the pressure on government to accommodate the rising army of youths were some of the factors put into consideration.
EDC adopts a person-centred and demand-driven approach towards promoting and developing competent and productive initiatives in the area of small enterprises.
The project is designed to provide training, strategies and certification programmes that will assist young Nigerians to embrace micro, small and medium scale enterprises as alternative employment options. It seeks to effectively mainstream youth participation in the economic activities of their respective communities with a view to reducing unemployment, while also generating a higher value addition for the nation’s economy.
Again, the apex bank realised the fact that some of the key challenges that needed to be addressed in the country’s efforts to become the economic hub of Africa by the year 2020 is skilled manpower and the need to device practical measures to engage the army of unemployed youths in economic activities. These informed the decision of the Central Bank of Nigeria to actively develop, support and complement the efforts of other government agencies by establishing one EDC in each of the six geo-political zones.
Entrepreneurship Development Centres
The centres are also one of the deliverables of the Microfinance Policy Regulatory and Supervisory Framework for Nigeria launched in December, 2005 which is to provide conducive environment for the growth and development of the Micro, Small and Medium enterprises.
Accordingly, in 2008, the bank established three new EDCs on a pilot basis located in North-West, South-West and South-East.
Objectives of the EDCs
According to the CBN, the various entrepreneurship centres were set up to develop entrepreneurship spirit among youths and provide insight in tools, techniques and framework for managing business enterprise; to develop skills of would be entrepreneurs to successfully start, expand, diversify and manage a business enterprise as well as link them to financial institutions for a start –up capital, especially Microfinance Banks and to generate employment opportunities for youths in Nigeria in pursuance to the Federal Government Empowerment Schemes such as the National Economic Empowerment Development Strategy and the recent Transformation Agenda.
The initiative was also said to have been informed by the need to raise a new crop of entrepreneurs that can compete globally in managing micro, small and medium enterprises as well as providing the bridge for future industrialisation of the country.
Performance of the Pilot Phase EDC
According to a document sourced from the apex bank last week, from inception in April 2008 to April 2013, the pilot EDCs located in the Kano (North-West), Lagos (South-West) and South-East (Onitsha) have trained collectively 41,828, created 11,414 jobs. Under this scheme, 1,743 trainees were said to have accessed loan.
In a bid to spread the gains of the scheme to other parts of the country, the Management of the Bank consequently approved the establishment of the remaining three EDCs in North-Central (Makurdi), North –East (Maiduguri) and South-South (Calabar) geo-political zones in June 2012.
Feelers from the beneficiaries and host communities showed that the performance of these centres to date is commendable. From their inception in January 2013 to September 2014, the centres collectively trained 8,807 beneficiaries.
The breakdown of the figures showed that in Maiduguri, 2,862 were trained while in Markudi, Benue State capital 3,242 benefited from EDC’s training and in Calabar, the Cross River State capital, 2,703 were trained.
The total of beneficiaries that accessed loans was equally impressive as the programme captured 2,350 people.
The breakdown shows that 1,005,418 and 927 people benefited from loans offered by the centres in Maiduguri, Markurdi and Calabar respectively.
Also, the number of job created within the review period totalled 5,243 spread into 1,530, 1,649 and 2,064 for Maiduguri, Markurdi and Calabar respectively.
THISDAY’s check revealed that in June 2013, following the end of the first phase EDC project lifecycle, the CBN approved that the projects in these zones be extended by three years.
Accordingly, this project strategy was redesigned to target school leavers, tertiary institutions graduates and owners of existing businesses. It was gathered that under this review, the candidates are to undergo training for 12 weeks for tertiary institutions graduates and 16 weeks for school leavers and others. Counselling, internship, mentoring and attachment to incubators have also been built in during the training and post training period for the prospective entrepreneurs.
The EDCs is conceptualised to run for three years funded by the Bank (personnel only), thereafter the relevant state governments and implementing agencies would carry on the operations of the centres sustainably.
A number of implementing agencies approved by the CBN to run the centres were spread in the various zones.
For the North-East Zone (Maiduguri), the list include A.I. Development Limited, Entrepreneurship Development Centre, North-East (EDC-NE), Borno State University, Complex, Kano Road, Maiduguri. For the North-Central Zone the address is African Community Entrepreneurship Development Centre Complex,
Makurdi, Benue State. In the South-South Zone, it is located at EDC South-South Centre, (Prof. Eyo Ita House,) Calabar, Cross River State.
Development Finance Officers
In order to ensure the programme achieves its target, the apex bank appointed development finance officers whose role include monitoring of the training modules delivered by the implementing agencies appointed by the bank.
They are also expected to ensure the participation of youths from their respective states in the programme within their respective zones; Ensure that the centres continually collaborate with relevant agencies to enhance the outcome of the programme; and periodically monitor trainees on internship in their states.
They are also expected to collaborate with the implementing agencies in linking graduate of the centres to finance particularly Medium and Small Enterprises Development Fund (MSMEDF) through the microfinance banks.
THISDAY learnt that the Central Bank is in the processes of flagging off three centres to be located in Kano (North-West), Ibadan (South-West) and South-East.
For the smooth running of the new centres, some new implementation agencies were recently approved by the management of the CBN. These include, Africa Leadership Forum – Ibadan (S/W); International Centre for Development Affairs (S/E) and DII Development II Nigeria Limited (N/W).