Emefiele Seeks Varsities’ Partnership To Develop Entrepreneurship


*Pledges more support for MSMEs

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is to collaborate with universities in designing a framework for entrepreneurship development in order to arrest rising youth unemployment.

The CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, while delivering the 51st Convocation Lecture of the University of Lagos, yesterday in Lagos, urged universities to begin sending requests to the CBN for research or for some form of training on entrepreneurial development.

The topic of his lecture was: “National Development and Knowledge-Economy in the Digital Age: Leapfrogging SMEs in the 21st Century.”

Emefiele also pledged the CBN’s readiness to increase its development finance interventions to support micro, small and medium scale enterprises (MSMEs).

According to him, since the introduction of the Youth Entrepreneurship Development Fund (YEDP), one of the bank’s development finance initiatives, there has been limited access by fresh school leavers.

He said: “This is to support our youths who are graduating so that rather than going out to seek employment from
companies, that they can on their own access finance, both grants and loans that would aid them in setting up their own business, thereby creating jobs not just for themselves, but for others as well. That is what I think we should begin to think about at this time.

“Given population growth and the increasing number of graduates, we need to begin to see how SMEs can be incorporated and supported.

“Closing from this lecture today, we would be writing to all universities, to begin to conduct some kind of entrepreneurship development competition programme.

“If you truly say you are a graduate of agriculture, are you coming out of the university to begin to look for a job in a company or you are graduating with your certificate to go into agriculture business? So, we would like to encourage universities.”

He said the bank’s Development Finance team would soon write to universities to develop a framework under which this can be done, adding that is one aspect where the bank can begin to stimulate the entrepreneurial skills in the youth.

Emefiele congratulated the graduating students and urged them to take advantage of some of the bank’s programmes aimed at supporting SMEs such as the SME Credit Guarantee Scheme (SMECGS); Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Fund (MSMEDF); Agri-business/Small and Medium Enterprises Investment Scheme (AGSMEIS); Creative Industry Financing Initiative (CIFI); Targeted Credit Facility (TCF) and the Nigeria Youth Investment Fund (NYIF).

He highlighted how critical vibrant and growing small businesses are to the growth of the economy and the creation of jobs for Nigerian youth.

He stated that special consideration needed to be given to strengthening physical and ICT infrastructure to enable SMEs to perform more efficiently and become globally competitive.

He added that the potential of SMEs in enhancing economic growth was hampered by limited access to finance, inadequate infrastructure and poor digital penetration.

Emefiele urged governments at all levels and the private sector to provide more support in addressing the challenges of SMEs.

According to him, as users of new technology, policies should incentivise the adoption of innovations that will improve SMEs competitiveness and productivity.

“In the 21st century, we have witnessed ground-breaking innovations and growth in several countries, stemming from significant investments in building a knowledge-based system that enables greater application of technologically driven research and innovation,” he said.

The CBN governor explained that technology is not only reshaping how knowledge is shared but also how goods and services are produced and traded, adding that it is also redesigning the various modes of payments for goods and services towards systems that enable faster and more efficient settlement of payment transactions.

“Today, the emergence of digital platforms such as Amazon and Alibaba have provided SMEs with a significant ability to expand their operations by enabling them to sell and deliver their products to customers that are not within their immediate environment,” he added.

According to him, a digitalised and knowledge-driven economy can accelerate the growth and development of SMEs as well as create new opportunities to strengthen productivity, especially in the services industry.

He listed countries such as India, China, Korea and Singapore as having continued to harness the benefits of the knowledge economy to accelerate economic growth, largely, through the contributions of SMEs.

He tasked all stakeholders to deepen reforms that will improve human capital development through skills enhancement and proper linkage of research to the SME sector.

Emefiele charged tertiary institutions to tap into the educational trends that are drivers of productivity in advanced and emerging markets, in order to reshape the curriculum, enhance the learning experience of students and foster innovation among the faculty and staff.

On the role of the CBN in the development of SMEs, Emefiele said the bank had rolled out massive developmental interventions in some critical sectors of the Nigerian economy, especially in agriculture, manufacturing and SMEs.

In his remarks, the Vice-Chancellor of the university, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, said the lecture fell within the strategic plan of the institution, saying: “This is because we are aware that there is a need to empower our youths if we are serious about moving the economy of this nation forward.”

He stated that youth development was a key consideration in the university’s academic activities, adding that it is at the forefront of developing critical manpower required for building and developing the nation.

He said: “Our courses and research thematic areas are focused on preparing our students for nation-building and solving societal challenges.”

Earlier, the Chairman of the occasion, Pastor Tunde Bakare of The Citadel Global Community Church (formerly Latter Rain Assembly), had expressed excitement about the topic, saying that the country needs young entrepreneurs to create jobs.

“We cannot always build the future for our youths, but we can build our youths for the future,” he said.

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