Keynote Address By His Excellency, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, Gcfr, At The Public / Formal Launch Of The Youwin! Job Creation Programme On Tuesday, 11th October, 2011.
It is with great pleasure that I formally launch one of this Administration’s key programmes targeted at youth empowerment, employment generation and wealth creation.
As I said in my Budget Presentation Speech late last year, unemployment among our youth is one of our biggest challenges as a nation. But this is a challenge that we are willing and ready to address to unlock the vast potentials of the Nigerian youth.
In the course of the campaigns for the April 2011 Presidential elections, I met many young Nigerians, based at home and in diaspora who have refused to submit to the blackmail of self-defeat and despair, and who are showing great initiative in making positive use of their God-given talents.
My concern is that we need to grow the population of such positively-attuned youth. It is our duty to identify them early and support them and this cannot be done by merely raising their hopes but by giving them a chance to be who they want to be.
At the 17th ordinary session of the Summit of the African Union in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, last June, I spoke about the opportunities in the continent’s demography profile, as projections show that close to 70 % of the African population will be under 20 by 2020. I told my colleagues that this constitutes such a large and powerful force for future development.
Incidentally, at the summit, I met a young Nigerian entrepreneur who spoke passionately about the challenges faced by young people in business and the need for government to assist them in fulfilling their aspirations.
That young Nigerian is Cynthia Mosunmola Umoru, who represents the can-do spirit of the youth that gives us confidence about the future of our great country. Her call for government’s support incidentally coincides with the commitment we made at the Malabo Summit on accelerating youth empowerment for sustainable development.
In this regard, and in fulfilment of my electoral promises, the Youth Enterprise with Innovation in Nigeria initiative, also known as YouWin!, is one of the first programmes to be funded, in part, from the N50 billion job creation fund set aside in the 2011 budget. YouWin! is a demonstration of this Administration’s goal of developing a robust private sector by encouraging locally-owned enterprises.
YouWin! is an innovative business plan competition that harnesses the creative energies of young people between the ages of 18 and 35. The programme is largely targeted at owners of existing formal and informal businesses who will be asked to submit their business plans for a competition. These will be evaluated by a panel of experts and the best submissions from each geopolitical zone will be selected for support.
The government, in partnership with other stakeholders, will then provide support for these winners to either expand their existing businesses to create jobs for the youth in their locality, or start-up businesses that create jobs based on their ideas.
Through YouWin!, over 3,600 Nigerian youth will be financially assisted to actualise their entrepreneurial ideas and plans. It is expected that these would create between 80,000 to 110,000 sustainable jobs over the next 4 years.
Permit me to make a reference to Steve Jobs, the recently deceased co-founder of Apple. Jobs started his career by building the first Apple personal computer in the run-down garage of his foster parents and he pursued his entrepreneurial dreams to become one of the most influential innovators of the 21st century.
Similarly Bill Gates’ Microsoft and Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook are eloquent testimonies to the capacity of the youth to dream big and win big in an innovative manner. We have such men and women in this land too: our challenge is to find them early, nurture them and encourage them.
As I formally launch this programme today, I am also formally declaring the application for the first cycle open. Following this national launch here, the programme will be re-launched in each of the six geopolitical zones of the country over the next two weeks.
In line with our renewed commitment to regular performance evaluation and measurement, this Administration will monitor the programme closely over the next three years of its implementation to ensure that it remains responsive to the needs of young Nigerian men and women.
While I commend our development partners for their support on the YouWin initiative, let me use this occasion to reemphasise the need for productive partnerships with global businesses and organizations on our job creation agenda.
I wish to reiterate this Administration’s commitment to comprehensively address the challenge of youth unemployment and as we invest in the development of their skills, talents and entrepreneurship through programmes such as YouWin!, we provide that mentorship and support that they need to become all that they potentially can be.
Thank you for your attention and may God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.