By – Montage Africa Media
In 2011, Nigeria’s former President Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan formally launched the first round of the business competition YouWin. The program, a partnership between the Nigerian Ministry of Finance, the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) and the World Bank, was setup by the government to in a bid to answer to the growing rate of unemployment in Nigeria. The program would create jobs and encourage young people who have business ideas to execute them and employ more people.
In the first of four rounds, the government granted a total $58 million to 1,200 entrepreneurs. This was done with the expectation that a least 44,000 jobs would be created to help ease the tensions Nigerians were facing. And although this herculean milestone was not reached, it has been cited that about 22,ooo jobs were eventually created. Proving that the initiative was a favourable one. The reception from the general Nigerian populace, most especially the youth, has been open armed jubilation and wonder that such an event could actually take place here. Where before, it would have been the sole preserve of privileged members of some government official’s family, we had a case where the program was all inclusive. With various beneficiaries along the length and breadth of the nation receiving grants that varied between 1million and 10 million naira to kick-start or re-invigorate their dream businesses.
The international community has also lauded the program, with the DFID – which contributed $2 million towards administrative costs and the World Bank – funded a large impact evaluation, tentatively touting it as the world’s largest business plan competition.
Sadly though, in the culture of Nigeria’s poor maintenance practice, very little data is available on the next three iterations after the first round of the competition. What is even worse is that there have been reports that those who are supposed to be benefitting from the relief of those grants – the awardees, have not been receiving the much needed funds. To the extent that the 1500 beneficiaries of the third phase of the program in a statement alleged that the more than 4, 500 people who got employment under them were at the risk of losing their jobs after the federal government left them unattended to in the past five months.
This comes in spite of the fact that the budget has already been past and the fund for YouWIN3 has been deposited with CBN. Yet the 1500 YouWin awardees said they have been left to fend for themselves due to the federal government’s failure to make good its pledge. In a statement they said;
“The first installment was scheduled for a November 2014 release, but was paid in January 2015. Since then, awardees have not been given the scheduled May and October payments despite a signed legal agreement.”
In the statement they further said; ‘‘we have made all the necessary approvals but have not seen the payment. We have asked for the reason for the delay and they have not been forthcoming,”
Yet it would seem this wait has no end in sight despite assurance received from the former minister of Finance, who confirmed that the disbursement of funds in the third phase of the programme would commence shortly as the hitches had been cleared. This was over six months ago.
Meanwhile, there have been reports that “Another programme that has been marked for extinction is the YouWiN! programme. We are aware the incoming President considers the continued existence of the project especially the YouWiN! Women – a special edition for women – as inimical to his religious ideals. Expect YouWiN! to be scrapped within the first six months of Buhari’s tenure”, the source said. Even though the Buhari administration has not made its stance clear, but it is hoped that the new President will consider continuing the program so that the full positive effects of the initiative can be realized in the country.