FG empowers youths with start-up kits for businesses

The Federal Government is set to further empower more Nigerian youths with start-up kits for their business through the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) initiative.

Mrs Mary Kolawale, SMEDAN’s FCT Coordinator, National Business Skills Development Initiative (NBSDI), said this during the NBSDI Empowerment Programme on Monday in Abuja.

According to Kolawale, the empowerment programme aims to empower MEMEs who have acquired one skill or another but have been finding it difficult to get equipment to start up their businesses.

She said the annual programme aligned with President Bola Tinubu’s Renewed Hope Agenda to enable unemployed youths to be their bosses.

“The essence of this programme is to train them, give them skills and empower them.

“We know it is one thing to give them entrepreneurial training and another for them to turn it into wealth.

“So at the end of the day, we will give them a start-up kit that they will be using to either start up or boost their already existing businesses.

“And after three months, we will locate them to assess how they are doing and to guide them wherever they are having business challenges,” she said.

According to the coordinator, the programme will provide participants entrepreneurial education, vocational skills and empowerment equipment.

Kolawale said: ” We are looking at engaging participants with three skills – fashion designing, leather works and catering skills.

“The participants are expected to acquire one of these skills, which was chosen based on the trend and thriving business in that particular location.

“This programme will hold concurrently in 13 states of the federation, including Adamawa, Akwa Ibom, Ebonyi, Ekiti, Enugu, FCT, Katsina, Kogi, Kebbi, Niger, Osun, Rivers and Yobe.

“About 55 pieces of equipment will be provided in each state for the following skills – fashion, barbing, leatherwork, catering, welding and fabrication, laundry, and dry cleaning.”

According to her, the training is done at no cost to the participants as they will be provided daily transportation to their various homes.

On how the participants were chosen, she said the agency was in partnership with both public and private organisations which assisted in nominating participants for the training.

According to Kolawale, participants are drawn from the SMEDAN data bank, NGOs, area council nominees and grassroots organisations.

She said although everyone might not be captured for the programme simultaneously, there was room for more people to be captured in subsequent programmes.

On monitoring, the coordinator reiterated that a team had been designated in the agency to monitor the progress made by participants.

“We go back to them to monitor to ensure that the equipment given to them is not being sold out but judiciously utilised.

“We have a unit domiciled in the agency’s Policy Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation departments.

“So we ask the officers to go out to look at what they are doing, where they are and the challenges they are facing to proffer necessary support,” she said

The Chairman of the Tailor’s Association of Nigeria, Paul Ali, expressed delight at the opportunity the government gave through SMEDAN to empower the Nigerian youths.

According to him, the programme is commendable as it will educate, train and equip youths with the right instruments to engage and grow their businesses.

He said it would take the youth off the streets, prevent them from engaging in criminal activities, put food on their tables and enable them to provide for their families.

” I am very happy today. In fact, right from the day the director-general broke the news about this empowerment programme, I have been counting down the days.

“We (Nigerian tailors) are especially grateful to the DG and all his staff for taking us along and educating us to make a difference in the fashion industry.

“This empowerment will go a long way to provide knowledge, information and power to our people, and I thank the Federal Government and the SMEDAN for this goodwill.

“It will not only take our youths off the street, it will also help curb the issue of insecurity in the country,” he said.

A participant, Shifare Shehu, also expressed gratitude to the Federal Government and SMEDAN for the privilege of being part of the empowerment programme.

Shehu said: “this is a good initiative, and I am very grateful to SMEDAN and to the Federal Government for giving us this opportunity.

” By the special grace of God, if this industrial machine is being given to us, it will enable us to go wider and expand our businesses.”

Shehu also expressed optimism that the empowerment would trickle down to other youths who could not attend the programme today.

“This opportunity given to us will extend to people not here and those trying to get into the business.

“This is because by the time I am equipped, I will be able to employ more people to work in my business, so it is a good initiative,” she added. (NAN)