The House of Oduduwa and the Bank of Industry (BoI) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding which will provide loans to youths in Ile-Ife.
The Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi signed for the House of Oduduwa while the Acting Managing Director of BoI, Mr. Waheed Olagunju, signed for the financial institution.
Olagunju explained that the initiative was aimed at reducing youth unemployment in Ile-Ife communities.
Among the features of the MoU is the provision of N1 billion loans at an interest rate of 7.5 percent to the youths.
According to him, a substantial part of the loan will be disbursed to women, youth and businesses that show high sustainability.
“We have been partnering with multinational and corporate companies, but today we are collaborating with traditional rulers.
“These are people who have access to the grass roots. Partnering with them is a way of democratizing entrepreneurship.
“We identify areas in which communities have comparative advantages and invest in them.
“The beneficiaries will be selected using the world best practices. For this edition, about 15 to 20 percent of them will be those who deal in local products.
“We are working with the entrepreneurship center of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife.
“Applications are expected to be submitted and a joint committee of BoI team, the Oduduwa House, and OAU team would access it.
“They are to be monitored by members of the committee and elders, especially the traditional rulers. We estimate that about 5,000 youths will benefit from this,” he said.
On his part, Ooni emphasized the need to get youths empowered, saying that was necessary for the nation’s continuous growth.
He subsequently challenged monarchs across the country to be dedicated to developing youths in their communities.
He said: “I would not mind going hungry to empower the youths. If the youths of today are empowered, many generations will benefit from them and poverty will be abolished.
“Today’s event is another giant step in the history of Ile-Ife. We are molding future of our youths in the areas of agriculture and agro-allied industry.
“I put a challenge to other monarch’s to engage in a community partnership.
“We should stop relying on government. There are so many initiatives that community leaders can tap into.
“Community leaders should go into partnership with multinational companies and financial institutions to benefit their people,’’ he said.
The Monarch also said the N1 billion funding would help the youth of the entire House of Oduduwa and beyond.
He said monarchs should think of what they could do for their people and support the government in its empowerment moves.
The royal father noted that government at all levels should set up a body that will particularly focus on local contents initiative.
He said the body should also be responsible for quality assurance and control, adding that with this, over 60 per cent contracts will have local input.