A self-employment package for all graduates without the capital or the capacity to start their own businesses has been designed by Elim Microfinance Bank.
The package called Elim Graduates Entrepreneurship and Empowerment Scheme (EGEES) was launched recently at the Yaba Polytechnic.
Representatives of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), Lagos State Microfinance Institution (LASMI), Fidelity Bank, youth corps members and undergradautes were present.
Ifeoma Ana, managing director of Elim Microfinance Bank who designed the self-employment package said it had always been part of her lifelong dream of massive financial empowerment for people. Elim is partnering with NYSC and some tertiary institutions because they have the database of the target beneficiaries of the scheme.
According to Ana, when interested graduates are registered, they would state the areas they are interested in starting and running businesses. She said the bank would then send them to businesses and organisations where they can be interned. She explained that the purpose is to ensure they have practical skills in the field they intend to establish businesses.
Ana said, “After the internship which would be about three months, we shall also give them financial training. The trained graduates would then set up partnership which would be drawn in tandem with the project coordinators of Elim or any other microfinance bank using the EGEES concept. Funds are disbursed. The project coordinators will work with the graduates on day to day basis to ensure the business succeeds. When they repay the money after three or five years, the partnering graduates would then own the business. If after the training, any of the graduates wants to go it alone rather than in partnership with others, we we shall require him to bring collateral and go through the whole process of pure lending, so it would not be EGEES. The person could apply for another microfinance lending package.”
The fields of businesses under EGEES include but is not limited to: quantity surveying, mechanical, electrical, civil engineering, school proprietorship, fashion designing, entertainment and shows, printing press, bakery, journalism, medical and paramedics, legal and other professional services, hairdressing and beauty, communication, information technology, agriculture, transportation, food and fruit processing, packaging and preservation, insurance and stock brokerages, travel agencies, flour and cement milling, catering and confectioneries.
Ana uses the example of those in the medical field to illustrate: Medical practitioners of various specialisations- paediatrician, gynaecologist, pharmacist, graduate nurses are sent for internship in well-established hospitals. This is apart from the mandatory one year internship they have done because we do not know how they conducted themselves during that period. Our own internship programme would be a more structured and more tailored programme of about three months and they would be well monitored. Afterwards, we would teach them financial management to run the hospital. We would partner with appropriate organisations such as World Health Organisation (WHO). They may set up a hospital that specialises in HIV treatment and all the drugs may be supplied by partnering organisations like WHO. We would supply the startup and working capital until the business starts generating enough cashflow. After repaying the loan in about three to five years, the partnership then owns the business. Every field can be taken care of- the capital would depend on the type of project that is being considered. Empowered graduates shall in turn take on future interns for technical training on skills acquisition.
Reasons for restricting EGEES to graduates
The following reasons were given for restricting EGEES to graduates:
Ease of understanding-graduates who have gone through full college or university education understand and apply themselves more easily to on-the job training than non-graduates. Hence the vocational training period would be shorter.