The Federal Government has paid N1.6 billion to 638 awardees of the Youth Enterprise with Innovation in Nigeria (YouWin) programme, a statement from the Ministry of Finance has said.
The statement by Mr Na’inna Dambatta, director of Information in the ministry, which was issued yesterday in Abuja, said the amount was paid in June.
It recalled that under the programme, which took off in 2011, 18,000 young entrepreneurs were trained in management and business skills for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).
It said 3,900 of the trainees, including 1,200 women, were each given non-repayable take-off grants, ranging from N1 million to a maximum of N10 million for businesses of their choice.
“The third edition of the programme, which is still running with 1,500 beneficiaries has received N11.2 billion.
“So far, grants totalling N7.4 billion have been disbursed to the awardees”, the statement said.
It also quoted the Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun as saying that the present administration would restructure the programme in line with its “change” agenda.
Adeosun said the restructuring would ensure efficiency, transparency and accountability in investing the capital grants given to the beneficiaries.
She assured that all the commitments made by the Federal Government under the YouWIN programme would be met.
She said that every beneficiary would be duly verified, using tools like Bank Verification Number (BVN), before disbursements.
The minister added that the Federal Government would begin consultations with the beneficiaries and other stakeholders of the programme to inject new ideas for its sustainability.
According to the statement, the ministry of finance, which has been running the programme from inception, will hold the consultation on July 22 in Abuja.
“Representatives of the beneficiaries drawn from the six-geo-political zones and other stakeholders will chart a way forward for the programme”, she added.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that winners of the third edition of the programme, earlier this month stormed the headquarters of the ministry to protest the delay in the payment of their grants.