YouWin has made so many boys rich! The program has also aided so many small businesses. When Jonathan lost his reelection, the first question on many entrepreneurs’ minds was about the future of the multimillion dollar grant scheme. Well, sadly, according to an entrepreneurship report published by The Economist Intelligence Unit earlier this year titled “Enabling
YouWin has made so many boys rich! The program has also aided so many small businesses. When Jonathan lost his reelection, the first question on many entrepreneurs’ minds was about the future of the multimillion dollar grant scheme. Well, sadly, according to an entrepreneurship report published by The Economist Intelligence Unit earlier this year titled “Enabling a more productive Nigeria: Powering SMEs”, the Youths with Innovation programme ends this year. The report does a commendable in-depth appraisal of the challenges and opportunities that small and medium scale enterprises face viz a viz its effect on the growth of the Nigerian economy.
An SME-support fund table in the report shows that the YouWin program, which has been a source of financial ‘blessings’ to thousands of young entrepreneurs, ends this year.
The Youth Enterprise with Innovations ( YouWin) is a palliative initiative of the President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration, oversaw by the Ministry of Finance, to empower young entrepreneurs and create employment by funding entrepreneurs with beautiful business ideas with between $5,000 and $50,000.
There have been speculations since President Muhammadu Buhari’s assumption of office that the programme along with other relief programmes has been earmarked for cancellation due to the president’s religious leanings.
Speculations aside, the programme started in 2011 as a three-year initiative to help sharpen the entrepreneurial ventures of about 3600 Nigerian youths and provide 80,000-110,000 jobs to Nigerian youths. This means an eventual cancellation wouldn’t be as a result of Mr.President’s religious affiliations rather it will be because it had run out of its term.
More plausible reasons could be reports hinting on the inefficiency of the initiative to reduce unemployment. According to Lead consultant of the Citizens for Justice, Employment and Transparency (C-JET), Victor Anyanwu, while delivering a report conducted by ActionAid Nigeria, “the about 2,390 currently active awardees of the first and second YouWin editions engage an average of 10 workers per business, while the estimated best performance of the entire 3900 awardees will be creation of 40,108 jobs. This figure will fall very short of the 80,000-110,000 jobs targeted by government, even without giving consideration for the critical issue of the job quality.”
Hues, cries, and allegations of oversight on the part of the administrators of the initiative are another factor that could be responsible for the eventual jettisoning of YouWin. In some quarters, it’s been reported that the programme has been poorly implemented, and that some of the grants it awarded were not fully disbursed to awardees. ‘Word on the street’ is that several ‘sharp boys’ also diverted their grant money for personal use like car acquisition and funding their wedding. On the contrary, several awardees have given me anecdotal evidence that the program was immensely benefiting based on the top-notch training and funding it provided.
Attempts to reach YouWin have been futile as most of their lines haven’t been going through and the very few that went through weren’t answered. As recent as August, the agency still had a management training for 150 SME owners, powered by Procter and Gamble. It was attended by one of our contributors, Tolu Agunbiade.
Our current president did promise few weeks before the last presidential elections that his government would continue programs of the previous government that it deems useful. It will be saddening to see YouWin shutdown. For an administration that made vows to reduce unemployment and focus on youth empowerment during its electioneering process, a total cancellation of a ready-made springboard like YouWin will only amount to shooting itself in the foot. At a time when the unemployment rate is approximately 30 percent of the working population, there is an imperative need to provide viable measures that will placate the unemployed youths.
YouWin is a beautiful initiative that may have been poorly managed. Instead of dissolution, the government should employ the services of entrepreneurship experts to look into ways through which the programme can be made to accurately and efficiently serve the unemployed populace of the Nigerian youths.
Procedures should not only dole out funds but also ensure that such funds are utilized in a ways that its transformational impacts are measurable.
Bottom Line. YouWin should not be scrapped. Government should look into ways to revamp the modalities and make it resourceful.
Know any beneficiary of the program? kindly share this piece with them. Their comments would be invaluable contributions to this story.