Two hundred youths in Cross River have been selected to undergo entrepreneurial development training after which they will receive N10 million each to start up or expand their businesses.
The scheme is a partnership between the Cross River Government and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) through the Agro Small and Medium Enterprises Investment Scheme (AGSMIS).
Governor Ben Ayade inaugurated the scheme on Tuesday in Calabar.
The scheme, according to him, seeks to empower up to 3,000 youths and women between 2020 and 2023 and stem the tide of irregular migration out of the country.
The governor said he created the office of the Migration Control Service to ensure that youths remained in the state and access viable opportunities for a better life.
Represented by his Deputy, Prof. Ivara Esu, the governor said that many youths think life is easier outside Nigeria, prompting them to embark on a dangerous journey abroad through the deserts and the Mediterranean Sea.
He said that many lose their lives while others become slaves in such a journey.
“I am happy the programme has started, 200 youths have been selected in the first phase to benefit from the training and access finance.
“I hope as time goes on, the programme will expand to accommodate more people.
“It is a thing of pride to own your own business.
“So, I want to encourage the youths to stop looking for white-collar jobs and start owning their businesses through which they can employ other youths thus, stemming the tide of unemployment and irregular migration,’’ he said.
Earlier, Mr Michael Abuo, Director-General, Cross River Migration Control Services said that the initiative was to create opportunities for youths and women in the state.
Abuo said the beneficiaries would be trained for one week after which they would be guided to submit their business proposals to have access to finance of up to N10 million to start or expand their businesses.
“The funding comes from the CBN through AGSMIS put in place by the Federal Government to provide finance for small and medium scale enterprises both start-ups and already existing businesses.
“What we are doing as a state is creating the platform for our people to key into the scheme and to access the available opportunities.
“We are, however, hoping that in the first phase, 200 jobs will be created directly while about 1,000 would be created indirectly through the value chain created by each of the businesses,’’ he said.