N10m Startup: Can Proposed NYSC Grants Fix Nigeria’s Graduate Job Crisis?

N10m Startup: Can Proposed NYSC Grants Fix Nigeria’s Graduate Job Crisis?

May 15, 2024 0 By Fasholu Gabriel Oluwatobi

Dr. Jamila Bio-Ibrahim, the Minister of Youth Development, on Monday, May 13, 2024, announced a government plan to financially support the entrepreneurial skills of at least 5,000 members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC).

The Minister disclosed this at the inaugural meeting of the NYSC management in Abuja, stating that each beneficiary will receive N10 million to fund their businesses.

This announcement regarding the N50 billion initiative has unsurprisingly sparked mixed reactions among Nigerians, particularly the youth. Key questions surround the selection process: How and when will the 5,000 beneficiaries be chosen? What are the selection criteria, and will the financial support be a one-time offering, or will subsequent entrepreneurial corps members benefit as well? Skepticism also lingers regarding the program’s feasibility.

A Look at Graduate Unemployment in Nigeria

Nigeria faces a significant challenge with graduate unemployment. According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), the unemployment rate among youths aged 15-34 in Q2 2023 was 7.2% having been at 6.9% in Q1 2023 This translates into millions of young graduates struggling to find employment after completing their university degrees.

The NYSC Scheme: History and Purpose

Established in 1974 following the Nigerian Civil War, the NYSC was designed to promote national unity and integration. Corps members, recent graduates, are posted to states outside their regions of origin, where they interact with diverse ethnicities and cultures. The program aims to foster a sense of national identity and break down regional biases.

While the scheme has achieved some success in fostering unity, concerns have been raised about corps members’ safety, remuneration, and the program’s overall relevance in the modern job market. Calls for scrapping the NYSC entirely have been countered by proposals for reform, including the introduction of the Skills Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development (SAED) program to equip corps members with vocational skills.

The New Initiative: A Step in the Right Direction?

President Bola Tinubu’s administration came to power promising to reform the NYSC scheme. Dr. Bio-Ibrahim’s announcement regarding the N10 million grants seems to be a step towards fulfilling that promise. However, questions remain about the program’s effectiveness in addressing graduate unemployment.

Reactions and Concerns from Stakeholders

Nigerians have taken to social media to express their opinions on the initiative. “The_Analyst,” a netizen, lauded the concept but suggested reducing the individual grant amount to reach more beneficiaries.

“But it’ll be best if it was reduced to like 2m each to cover more corp members. And we pray this initiative works out well,” he suggested.

Okopi Odu Peter echoed this sentiment, welcoming the development but emphasizing the need for pre-investment training for corps members. Alabi I. Ayodeji expressed concerns about transparency and proper implementation, fearing potential misuse of funds.

He said, “I wish they could do this right and not loot this money or give it to family and friends that have no creative idea of how to generate wealth. Past experience isn’t giving me hope that it will be done right. 4yrs from now, we will be hearing that EFCC is probing NYSC funds.

Michael David highlighted the potential impact but urged the government to ensure the funds reach deserving corps members with viable business plans.

“A N10 million grant can be a game-changer for a well-developed business plan. However, the success rate of startups is generally low. The government should consider mentorship programs and business incubators alongside the grants to increase the chances of success.” Kolawole Agbede an Economist advised the Federal Government.

Mr. Femi Akintola, Entrepreneurship Specialist harped on the FG getting the selection process right.

“The selection process is crucial. Focusing solely on the amount requested might overlook innovative ideas with lower initial capital needs. A balanced approach that evaluates both the business concept and financial projections is essential.” he submitted.

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