Presidential Committee To Probe Alleged Fraud In YouWin Programme

The Federal Ministry of Finance, on Friday said following preliminary investigations into fraud in the third batch of the Federal Government’s YouWin Programme, the 10 case have been handed over to the Presidential Initiative on Continues Audit (PICA) for further action.
The committee, according to a statement by Salisu Na’Inna Dambatta, Director, Information at the ministry, “will review each suspected case to determine whether any irregularity occurred.”
The statement assured that as an interim measure, disbursements for the affected “batch have been suspended.”
YouWin, which midwifed 3,900 enterprises within four years was one of the multiple intervention programmes to create jobs at the time and was inherited from the immediate past Goodluck Jonathan administration and had made legally binding commitments of grants to 1, 500 entrepreneurs, which the Muhammadu Buhari government felt should be honoured. A third batch of awardees was subsequently submitted to the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, for cash disbursement totaling N611, 821, 910.
Trouble however started, Dambatta recalled, following allegations “from an anonymous whistleblower, which provided documentary evidence of irregularities in 10 cases out of the batch. The Minister immediately directed that an internal investigation be conducted to determine the veracity of the alleged fraud and report the findings to her for necessary action.
“The substance of the allegations was that an awardee was the child of a former Director in the Ministry and there were a number of cases where married couples each benefitted. This raised concerns about the integrity of the original selection process, which took place in 2014.”
The statement noted also that a review of the YouWin programme to ensure its sustainability acknowledged the success of the original initiative “but also found among other limitations, that awardees were overly focused on the grant aspect of the programme and few had been able to secure other forms of funding to grow their businesses, despite each receiving up to N10 million in grants.
This led to the redesign and relaunch of the programme by the Ministry to focus more on continuous education which would build the capacity of young entrepreneurs across a range of disciplines.
In this way, the statement added, “YouWinConnect expects to develop entrepreneurs who can attract funding from wide range of sources currently available and take advantage of new funding sources. The funding element of YouWinConnect will now take the form of a Venture Fund which will take equity stakes in new and growing businesses.”

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