Socioeconomic interventions such as microcredit schemes have become a popular instrument to promote economic empowerment among entrepreneurs and job creation. However, some target groups from underserved communities are often inadvertently excluded from these interventions.
To address this, Ford Foundation – a non-profit organisation with a mission to reduce poverty and injustice, is supporting the access of underserved communities to the Nigeria Youth Investment Fund (NYIF) through a collaboration with Innovation Support Network.
NYIF is a loan-based program launched in July 2020 for entrepreneurs aged 18 to 35 by the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development to tackle youth unemployment and generate at least 500,000 jobs between 2020 and 2023. To drive inclusive access to this Fund, Ford Foundation through its implementation partner – Innovation Support Network – aims to increase access of women, at-risk youth in underserved communities including rural and urban peripheries and people with disabilities to qualitative NYIF applications through an initiative tagged DAFIM – Driving Access to Financial Inclusion for Microentrepreneurs.
DAFIM is a multi-stakeholder initiative that will leverage the International Labour Organisation’s Start and Improve Your Business curriculum and Innovation Support Network’s pool of trainers and innovation hubs to support the training of 60,000 participants in Abia, Adamawa, Akwa Ibom, Kaduna, Kogi and Ogun states over a period of two years with a target audience of 60% women, 30% at-risk youth and 10% people with disabilities. To achieve this, the target groups will be provided with awareness and socialisation around NYIF, offline alternatives to the online NYIF process, criteria fulfilment support, business training in local languages and additional subsequent guidance along the NYIF application process.
Working in collaboration with partners including women and PWD groups across the 6 pilot states (Abia, Adamawa, Akwa Ibom, Kaduna, Kogi and Ogun states), DAFIM will also provide Gender Equality and Social Inclusion recommendations to support the achievement of a sustainable inclusion framework for in the implementation of NYIF as well as other similar interventions.
Overall, DAFIM is focused on driving financial inclusion through awareness, education and credit access to micro-entrepreneurs in the target states in order to increase the number of sustainable youth-led small businesses among underserved communities across the country to create in-demand products, revenue and jobs, thereby addressing current gaps in youth unemployability, economic development and sustainable entrepreneurship.