The House of Representatives has passed a bill seeking to establish an Entrepreneurship Development Bank of Nigeria for a second reading, with the aim of providing soft loans for small and medium-scale enterprises in the country.
The bill was jointly sponsored by Messrs Benjamin Kalu and Olalekan Afolabi
The legislation is titled ‘A Bill for an Act to Establish Entrepreneurship Development Bank of Nigeria to Charge It with the Responsibility, Among Other Things, to Provide Medium and Long-Term Finance for Indigenous Small Businesses and to Provide for Establishment of Nigerian Entrepreneurship Development, Encourage Aspiring Entrepreneurs and Small Scale Enterprises in Nigeria.’
Leading the debate on the bill at the plenary on Wednesday, Kalu said the proposed bank would be charged with the responsibility, among other things, of providing medium and long-term finance for indigenous small businesses.
He added that the bill, which July 18, 2019, focuses on Nigerian youths and contemplated providing improved access to finance for youth entrepreneurs in innovation, manufacturing, agriculture and trade.
Kalu said, “In Nigeria today, due to numerous socio-economic challenges, many youths depend on themselves and drive their own future by creating opportunities for themselves and others, by undertaking different entrepreneurial ventures toward self-reliance. However, this group of people still need capacity building, financial support and favorable policies.
“The strength of any nation depends on the policy framework and initiatives put in place to develop and empower the youth in order to maximise their potentials, talents and untapped capacities in nation building. Without a vibrant, skilled, focused and equipped youth, no nation can rise to its full potential because the youth are the visionaries and producers who power nations to greater heights.
“Youths are estimated to constitute about 70 per cent of the population of Nigeria. This is a huge advantage for a nation that is seriously and furiously pursuing national development. The youth are assets to a nation, not liabilities. The youths, if well-educated, trained and motivated, can utilize their mental, technical and visionary power to develop the Nigerian economy.”
According to the lawmaker, a fundamental challenge to youth entrepreneurship capacity is the lack of access to functional and effective finance. He stated that the existing financial institutions are not really servicing the real needs of the indigenous business or initiatives owned and run by the youth.
“In most cases, their requirements are way beyond the reach of such entrepreneurs; and their operational modalities are not really designed to deliberately encourage indigenous small businesses. A closer look at the operational modalities of the Bank of Industry, Bank of Agriculture and the Development Bank of Nigeria would show that there is no clear-cut intention and support for indigenous small businesses owned and run by youth.
“Commercial and microfinance banks are not even feasible options for indigenous small businesses. This is the gap which the contemplated bank would fill. There is a need for a specialised bank, which would target the youth at different levels and scope with emphasis on harnessing abundant potentials for economic growth and greatness of the nation,” he said.