Abuja- The Executive Secretary, Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF), Mr Femi Ajayi, says the fund is collaborating with Heritage Bank Limited to empower youths on entrepreneurial development.
Ajayi announced this in his opening address at the first PTDF Youth Empowerment Scheme in Abuja.
Although the executive secretary did not give the financial implication of the partnership, the Bank said the global figure of the soft loan to be guaranteed by PTDF was about N500 million.
The PTDF boss said that as part of the funds commitment to capacity building, a special training and educational scheme was further set-up to develop the capacity of youths.
“Under this scheme, 120 youths from the Niger Delta and other parts of the country were trained in vocational skills including ICT, diagnostics/fault detection in heavy duty equipment.
“Also in Auto Rotary Technology at a City and Guilds Certified Centre in Cotonou, Benin Republic,” he said.
Ajayi said that the scheme was designed to run in batches of 20 and this was the first set selected based on their theoretical and practical performance at the training centre.
He explained that the fund in partnership with the bank had designed the PTDF youth empowerment scheme to equip beneficiaries with resources required to set-up small and medium scale businesses.
Ajayi said that the essence was to ensure that knowledge and competences gained are maximised as well as to guarantee self-sufficiency for them in line with the Transformation Agenda of Mr President.
“Most of the support will be in material form, the bank will buy most of the equipment that is needed, and of course they will calculate the monetary equivalent of it.
“The bank will supervise the preparation of the business plan and how the businesses are set up so the amount of money involved will vary depending on the business,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Group Head of Heritage Bank Limited, Mr Jide Dada, said the support given by the bank was not a grant but a soft loan with interest rate at a single digit.
“We have a global figure of about N500 million, this is just the pilot scheme and once we see the success of these ones, then we will begin to deploy the other ones.
“The loan that can be given to an individual would not exceed N10 million so that it can go round, although we are still deliberating on it as individual needs depend on business plan.
“We are going to administer the loan just the way we administer our regular loans, the loans are going to be at a concessionary rate and at a single digit interest rate which I think is fair enough,” he said.
The Special Assistant to the Executive Secretary, Miss Timipre Wolo, who enjoined the beneficiaries to make maximum use of the opportunity, said that the success of this first batch was very critical.
“There is going to be a serious monitoring, if we find out that some of you are slacking by the way, you could be pulled out because there is a long list of your colleagues waiting for this opportunity,” she said.
Mr Blankson Yenesom, who spoke on behalf of the beneficiaries, said the gesture would go a long way in resolving the agitation and challenge of making the best use of the skills acquired due to lack of finance.
The scheme, according to him, would help the beneficiaries to set up their small scale businesses in the oil and gas sector.