Unemployment is a global challenge and has continued to be unabated, particularly in Nigeria.  The rate of unemployment worldwide according to the International Labour Organization was estimated to be 5.8% and in Nigeria it was estimated to be 31.2%. The increasing level of unemployment in Nigeria had culminated in increasing rate of youth restiveness, armed robbery, drug trafficking, prostitution, Internet fraud and emergence of terrorist groups. Government through its policies has embarked on job creation and entrepreneurship scheme. Despite the effort, the problem seems to persist. Hence, the study examined the administration of entrepreneurship policy and employment generation between 2004 and 2014 in South West, Nigeria.

The survey design was adopted for the study. The population was the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) of Small Medium Enterprise Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) and Bank of Industry (BOI) in South-West, Nigeria. Three states: Lagos, Ogun and Ondo were purposively selected and respondents enrolled by simple random sampling technique. A validated questionnaire measuring data collection regarding entrepreneurship development and employment generation was developed. Reliability test for each construct was conducted with the following Cronbach’s alpha coefficient values of 0.89 for Role of Entrepreneurship Policies (ROL-EP), 0.87 for Relevance of Entrepreneurship Policies (REL-EP), 0.91 for Impact of Educational System of on Entrepreneurship Development (IES-EP) and 0.88 for Challenges of Entrepreneurship Development (CED). Response rate of 94.8% was obtained from 1,014 copies of the questionnaire administered. In addition, in-depth interview was conducted with 12 officials of BOI and SMEDAN. The quantitative data collected were analyzed using descriptive statistics while correlation and regression analyses were used in the testing of hypotheses at 5% level of significance. The qualitative data from the interviews were transcribed and content-analyzed.

Findings revealed that the entrepreneurship policies formulated by government in order to reduce unemployment had positive significant effect on the entrepreneurship development and employment generation (r =0.346; R2=0.119; p<0.05). Furthermore, the regression analyses revealed a significant impact on entrepreneurship development policies and employment generation (β=2.962; β=0.099; R=0.7320; R2=0.752; p<0.05). Similarly, the correlation analysis showed a positive significant association between entrepreneurship education and entrepreneurship development in empowering prospective entrepreneurs towards addressing unemployment (r=0.054; p<0.05).

The study concluded that the entrepreneurship policy and employment generation are connected. If the Administration of Entrepreneurship Policies is strengthened and enabled, there will be a corresponding improvement on employment generation. It was therefore recommended that government needs to formulate relevant policies and proactive in the implementation mechanisms in reducing the level of unemployment to augment the role of SMEDAN and BOI. The educational system needs to encourage aspiring entrepreneurs through workable and valuable curricular content reform which could reduce the rate of unemployment.

Keywords: MSMEs, Entrepreneurship, Public Policy, Unemployment, Capacity Building