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CBN initiates graduates’ entrepreneurship scheme

To address rising youth unemployment and underemployment, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), has developed the Tertiary Institutions Entrepreneurship Scheme (TIES).

TIES is being executed in partnership with Nigerian polytechnics and universities to harness the potential of graduate entrepreneurs (gradpreneurs) in Nigeria, the apex bank said in a statement.

Specifically, the scheme aims to provide access to finance for 25,000  gradpreneurs’ startups annually, and create about 75,000 sustainable jobs.   

The statement said the scheme is designed to create a paradigm shift among undergraduates and graduates from the pursuit of white-collar jobs to a culture of entrepreneurship development for economic development and job creation.

It also aims to provide an innovative financing model that will create jobs, enhance the entrepreneurial ecosystem and support economic growth and development.

Scheme objectives

According to the CBN, the broad objective of the Scheme is to enhance access to finance by undergraduates and graduates of polytechnics and universities in Nigeria with innovative entrepreneurial and technological ideas.

Others are:

  • Provide an enabling environment for co-creation, mentorship and development of entrepreneurial and technological innovations;
  • Fast track ideation, creation and acceleration of a culture of innovation-driven entrepreneurship skills among graduates of polytechnics and universities in Nigeria;
  • Promote gender balance in entrepreneurship development through capacity development and improved access to finance;
  • Leapfrog entrepreneurial capacity of undergraduates and graduates for entrepreneurship and economic development in partnership with academia and industry practitioners; and
  • Boost contribution of non-oil sector to the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP).

TIES is designed to create a paradigm shift among undergraduates and graduates from the pursuit of white-collar jobs to a culture of entrepreneurship development for economic development and job creation.

Guidelines for scheme

As part of the guidelines, Gradpreneurs eligible to participate include those in agribusiness, information technology, creative industry, science and technology, and any other activity to be determined by the CBN periodically.

The Bank also explained that the Scheme will be implemented through three components, including Term Loan; Equity Investment; and Developmental, and are open to Nigerian graduates with First degree certificate and hold National Youth Service Certificate (NYSC) discharge or exemption certificate.

Such graduates must also have Certificate of Participation issued by polytechnics and universities evidencing entrepreneurship training with not more than 7 years post-NYSC.

Furthermore, focus shall be on both greenfield (new) and brownfield (existing) projects in ratio 40:60, respectively. To promote gender equality, 50% of the Term Loan Component of the Scheme shall be earmarked for female-led or -owned projects.

As part of the development component, the CBN said the best entrepreneurial pitches/ideas from five top Nigerian polytechnics and universities shall be awarded cash prizes ranging from N50million to N150million.

To this end, the CBN plans to constitute a Body of Experts (BoE) from the private and public sectors for the biennial regional and national entrepreneurship competitions to evaluate entrepreneurial and technological innovations submitted by Nigerian polytechnics and universities.

Members of the BoE will include representatives from the Bankers’ Committee; consulting industry; SMEDAN; NUC; NBTE; and the CBN (Secretary). Except for the Bankers’ Committee that will have four, all the other agencies will have only one nominee, while the Chair of the BoE shall be appointed by the CBN from the Banker’s Committee.

The CBN also said that the scheme will be managed Development Finance Department, which reserves the right to accept or reject an application, warning that the Guidelines may be amended occasionally upon the approval of the Governor.    

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