Bol, LSM Partner On Entrepreneurial Training, Funding


The Bank of Industry (Bol) is collaborating with Laurel School of Mines (LSM) to produce gem stones for export.

At the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between BoI and LSM in Lagos on Monday, BoI’s Acting Managing Director Mr. Waheed Olagunju said that the partnership would facilitate entrepreneurship and employment in the solid minerals sector.

He said the collaboration was the boldest initiative the Development Finance Institution (DFI) has taken so far in the solid minerals space in the country.

“We have lots of agricultural resources, solid minerals and oil, but solid minerals are the lowest hanging fruits. With gem stones, you do not have to wait like agriculture where you plant to harvest and process. We have gem stones where we can pick them up, add value and within few weeks make thousands of dollars,” Olagunju said.

According to him, the partnership is also coming on the heels of Nigeria’s quest to diversify its revenue base, saying that the gem stones industry is capable of earning the much needed foreign exchange for the Nigerian economy.

‘’The turnaround time is faster in precious stones, unlike what we have in agriculture or the petroleum sector. We are going to generate a lot of entrepreneurs in this sector. We will be training 1,600 in each location and 200 per location across the country spanning the six geo-political zones, including Lagos and Abuja.

The BoI boss said that those who are trained and show signs of becoming potential entrepreneurs will be supported by the bank. “We will give them concessional facilities to enable them trade and export gem stones to earn foreign exchange, which would go a long way to help Nigeria diversify the economy while also earning foreign exchange for the country,” he added.

Olagunju said there would be four batches of 50 each in the locations to ensure that the training is effective. He also stated that the training is expected to last for three days, adding that the course curricular of the training programme will include picking the gem stones, adding value and trading for export.

On the versatility of the firm in partnership, the Bol boss said LSM is a global player and is currently operating in some parts of Africa successfully as well as in countries in Asia such as Sri Lanka, Thailand, Mali and Senegal among others.

“We are dealing with a reputable institution that is Nigerian and the MoU we are signing is also in sync with BoI’s operation strategy. We operate and collaborate with domestic and foreign development partners. LSM happens to be a domestic development partner in the private sector and the first in the solid minerals space,” he stated.

Also, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Mr. Tope Adebanjo, said if Nigeria channels the required efforts towards gem stone development, the industry is capable of turning the fortunes of the economy around. He maintained that the industry has transformed many economies of the world.

‘’It is sad that foreigners are dominating the gem stone business and there are millions of unemployed youths in the country. The industry is a multi-billion dollar industry. We can make Lagos and Abuja another Las Vegas in Nigeria,” he said.

According to him, Nigeria is tapping next to nothing in the global share index of the industry. He maintained that almost half of the total population of Thailand, which is about 60 million, engage directly and indirectly in gem stone production.

He, however, listed factors affecting investment in gem stone development in Nigeria to include lack of capital, market, technology, mineral resource and entrepreneurs. He stressed the need to develop entrepreneurs in Nigeria to take advantage of the enterprising sector.

“The training we are embarking on is about $277 per person for three days, which is less than $100 a day. Selection will be done diligently together with the BOI. Basically, the whole idea is to engage the youth to take over what belongs to them. Nigerians are intellectually sound, ready and willing to work, but the problem is who will lead them to work,” he said.

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