President Goodluck Jonathan on Monday in Abuja launched the $50 million Venture Capital Fund also known as the YouWin! Small and Medium Enterprise, SME,-Growth Fund.
Mr. Jonathan launched the fund alongside the fourth round of the Youth Enterprise with Innovation in Nigeria (YouWin) programme at an event held at the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa.
The fourth edition is expected to support additional 1,500 entrepreneurs along with the SME-Growth fund, which is a private equity fund for entrepreneurs.
Speaking at the launch, Mr. Jonathan said the new enterprise fund would enable those who won previous grants from the YouWin programme to take their businesses to the next level.
He said judicious administration of the fund would require hard work on the side of government, adding that if government worked hard, it could attract more contributions from investors.
The president further noted that the new fund would be managed by independent fund managers alongside the government and “you will not need to know somebody to access it”.
He said that selection of beneficiaries would be highly competitive and strictly based on merit.
The president lauded the efforts of the Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, whom, she said, has so far successfully coordinated three batches of the YouWin programme.
Citing available records, Mr. Jonathan expressed delight that a total of 22,000 jobs had been created by the first and second editions of YouWin.
He expressed the hope that with the launch of the fourth edition, the total number of jobs would rise to 44,000.
The president, who had earlier inspected an exhibition by beneficiaries of the programme, expressed happiness over the quality of products which, he said, were of international standard.
Describing YouWin as arguably one of the finest initiatives of his administration, Mr. Jonathan said that the response of youths to the programme was a source of pleasure to him.
In her speech, Ms. Okonjo-Iweala said that the disbursement of funds in the third phase of the programme would commence shortly as the hitches had been cleared.
She added that another 1,500 entrepreneurs would be supported with grants of between one million naira and 10 million naira to enable them to improve or run their businesses, expand them and create jobs.