The Bank remains highly committed to building entrepreneurs especially amongst Nigeria’s boisterous youth population.

Whenever one refers to the youth, a common slogan used is that youth are tomorrow’s leaders.

But, why not today? Taking up the reins of power at the depth of the Great Depression, Franklin D. Roosevelt, America’s 32nd President never lost sight of the power of youths for socio-economic change.

Roosevelt once said: “We cannot always build the future for our youths, but we can build our youth for the future”.

Currently, the Nigerian economy is in dire straits as Gross Domestic Product (GDP) at the constant basic prices, contracted in the fourth quarter of 2016 by 1.30 percent after depreciating 2.24 percent in the Q3’16, , according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

The current situation presses home the point that Nigeria’s growth and exchange rate stability in the decade-and half from 2000 to 2014 had been entirely dependent on favorable global commodity cycles.

Market analysts are of the view that weak commodity prices brought Nigeria’s growth to a very abrupt halt and inflicted heavy bouts of devaluation to the naira.

It should be noted that Nigeria’s growth would have been more resilient if the country had a better rail transport and energy infrastructure that would have underpinned higher value addition in industry.

To address this, many notable economists and financial experts have pointed to youth empowerment and entrepreneurship as Nigeria’s best option for wealth creation and economic growth.

Today, a huge number of financial institutions in the country have rolled out countless, unsustainable youth empowerment projects with little or no impact.

The Nation findings however reveal that Fidelity Bank Plc has stuck to its knitting by consistently empowering Nigeria youths with entrepreneurial skills needed to thrive in today’s high competitive business landscape.

The Nation gathered that the Bank recently entered into a partnership with Empretec Nigerian Foundation to organise a graduate entrepreneurship programme in Calabar, Cross Rivers State.

Over 200 Nigerian youths were trained on the theoretical and practical aspects of entrepreneurship.

Onari Duke, wife of Former Governor of Cross River state and founder of Empretec and Peter Egba, Commissioner of Commerce & Industry, Cross River State were both on hand to flag-off the programme.

A flagship capacity-building programme of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Empretec is aimed at promoting entrepreneurship and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) with a view to facilitating sustainable development and inclusive growth.

The Bank has also collaborated with Gazelle (Vocational Centre) Academy to introduce a national youth empowerment initiative.

This empowerment programme, which is part of the Bank’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives, is primarily targeted at creating a new breed of entrepreneurs amongst Nigeria’s youth population.

Dubbed the Fidelity Youth Empowerment Academy (YEA), this unique programme is designed strategically to drive awareness as well as empower undergraduates with requisite entrepreneurial skills that will not only help them establish sustainable businesses but also eventually turn them into huge employers of labour.

Our reporters gathered that the programme admits participants for free and monitors their respective progress post event.

Now in its third edition after successful outings at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), Enugu State and the Federal University of Birnin Kebbi, Kebbi State respectively, the programme has already left an indelible mark on the lives of youths in these institutions of higher learning.

In May 2017, the Bank, in collaboration with the Federal Polytechnic, Oko Venture concluded an entrepreneurship training programme for 400 students in Anambra State.

Organized under the YEA stream 3, the week-long training programme was aimed at equipping the students with skills and capabilities needed to take start businesses even whilst in school.

Some of the skill areas participants were trained on include: fashion, accessories, cocktail, tailoring, and makeup, shoe making, digital marketing.

Speaking at the closing ceremony of the third edition of the Fidelity Youth Empowerment Academy (YEA) held in Oko, Anambra State, the Bank’s Chief Executive Officer, Nnamdi Okonkwo noted that the initiative seeks to empower the Polytechnic community by creating thriving business owners amongst students.

This, he explained is in furtherance of the financial institution’s quest to not only tackle the nation’s unemployment challenges but improve the wellbeing of communities where it does business.

Okonkwo encouraged the participants who had successfully completed the programme aptly themed, ‘Turning Your Passion Into Pay Cheque’ not to relent in their efforts to build highly successful businesses.

“I was impressed with your individual dedication and collective performance during training. Always motivate yourselves. You are indeed lucky to have been chosen as a participant.

“I therefore challenge you to go out there and make a success out of this for you twelves and please remember that the right attitude and a strong will to succeed will take you far”, he added.

In the same vein, Muna Onuzo, Founder, Gazelle Academy, thanked the participants for their zeal and active participation as evidenced by the number of things ranging from sandals, clothing apparels, beadworks, cocktails that were made by the and on display for visitors who thronged the school to witness the closing ceremony.

Onuzo who noted that entrepreneurship remains the most viable solution to the current economic challenges, encouraged them to use the platform to gain financial freedom and self-reliance.

“Go and make Fidelity Bank proud; go and make the Federal Polytechnic, Oko proud; go and make Gazzelle Academy proud”, said Onuzor.

In his address on the occasion, the Deputy Rector of the Polytechnic, Mrs Gladys Anene commended Fidelity Bank for the initiative calling on other financial institutions to emulate the bank in giving back to the society through laudable youth empowerment programmes like YEA3.

From all indications, the Bank remains committed to building the next generation of Nigerian entrepreneurs. The Bank’s long-term goals is to see some of these MSMEs transform into major corporations in the next few years.

Sources close to the Bank also revealed that the Bank has committed significant human and financial resources into developing the right products and platforms needed to attain this objective.