By Glory JAMES
Akwa Ibom State Commissioner for Special Duties, Rt. Hon. Okpolupm Etteh, has inspired Ibeno youths and owners of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) in skill training and access to financial facility, describing them as change agents for wealth creation, formal employment, value addition, income generation and growth of the area and state.
The Commissioner, who solely sponsored over 120 youths of the area to Entrepreneurship Management Skill Training organized by the African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program (AWEP) in Upenekang, Ibeno Local Government Area, made this known on Thursday at the close of a 3-day capacity building training.
While charging participants to make good use of the knowledge acquired for the good of the society, the Commissioner, who was represented by the immediate past Special Assistant to Governor Udom Emmanuel on Project Monitoring, Mr. Ekoakwaha Etteh, further expressed optimism that the training has provided the trainees a platform to deliberate on key imperatives for achieving financial inclusion, promoting financial stability and entrenching self-reliance and self-sustainability.
Rt. Hon. Etteh, who hinted that the selection of participants was carefully done across the entire local government area, said he was “determine and committed to progress and development of youths of Ibeno,” adding that more advocacy was needed to emphasize the importance of SMEs in entrepreneurship, youth employment as well as youth employability skills development.
He maintained that the global attention to the activities of SMEs necessitated his decision to sponsor and encourage young entrepreneurs in the area on the need to evolve strategies that will provide a sustainable alternative to over-dependence on oil and politics.
Explaining further, the Commissioner said “Governor Udom Emmanuel, through his Dakadda philosophy, is encouraging SMEs development and fostering positive business environment and many more. In line with that, I sincerely wish to expose youths of Ibeno and other unbanked entrepreneurs in the area to the opportunities out there and access to credit finance for small, medium enterprises (SMEs) made possible by the collaboration of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) with the Bankers Committee through a national micro-finance bank, the Nigeria Incentive-based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL).”
In her remarks, the Chief Lead for AWEP, Rev Ruth Praise, thanked the Special Duties Commissioner for painstakingly sponsoring youths of Ibeno to the programme, stressing that the effort will yield positive impact.
The said the issue of financial literacy awareness can only be addressed through “noble moves like what you have done for the youths of Ibeno. I look forward to having a branch of the Enterprise Development Institute (EDI) in this local government area by this feat. I sincerely appreciate you.”
Also speaking, the Local Coordinator of the programme, Pastor Utip Ekong, said the training has exposed youths of the area to ways of tackling financial challenges faced by SMSs owners, particularly the general lack of confidence in dealing with financial institutions.
He also expressed gratitude to the Special Duties Commissioner for seeing the need to sponsor the programme and urged participants, whom he described as intended beneficiaries, to make Ibeno proud by adding more to the value chain.
Some of the participants who spoke including Unwa Joseph Eshiet, Ikotinyie Sunday Ichiulo and Enobong Etim Effiong, thanked the sponsor of the programme for the exposure given and for opening their horizon to business opportunities and how to access funding to their respective businesses.
The training centered on agro-based businesses, wielding, fashion, ICT, and participant were taught on how to formulate business model, process and market their produce among others.
Highpoint of the programme included presentation of certificate of appreciation to the Commissioner of Special Duties and certificates of participation to all the participants