Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) South-South Entrepreneurship Development Centre (SS-EDC) is driving a programme to help youths learn new skills to create micro enterprises, DANIEL ESSIET writes.
Treating more productive jobs is a major challenge for national development.
This is because young people have the hardest time finding new jobs, and establishing new businesses to boost economic growth.
With Nigeria’s high youth unemployment rate, skills are at the core of improving individuals’ employment outcomes and increasing potential for business productivity and growth.
To address this, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) South-South Entrepreneurship Development Centre (SS-EDC) in Calabar, the Cross River State capital, is training young people to become entrepreneurs.
The centre runs programmes that expose youths to business opportunities, assists them in accessing financial resources and markets and getting the necessary accreditation, and encourages them to make economic decisions. The technical training is supplemented with business advice and training.
From the programme, CBNSS-EDC has graduated 488 entrepreneurs.
A breakdown of their business plans shows that 398 are into agricultural business value chain while the remaining 90 business plans are spread across hospitality, ICT, trading, manufacturing, services and lifestyle.
CBN Branch Controller, Cross River State, Mr. Graham Kalio, expressed delight at the harvest of seeds sown by the bank and the fact that some of the graduating students have started businesses and making profits.
He advised the entrepreneurs to always remain creative, and that it is only through innovation, that business owners can create an edge for their businesses.
He charged the graduating participants to adopt the right attitude towards business funds when made available ensuring maximum accountability.
He condemned the prevalent undisciplined culture towards finance which makes beneficiaries spend loans on things that are irrelevant to the business like marriage, drinking and extravagant lifestyle.
SS-EDC Programme Director, Mr. Gbenga Owolabi, charged the entrepreneurs to hit the road with a tenacity of purpose, following through the plans they had articulated.
He said: “We have worked out how to support each other, challenge set mindset, and break the bonds of waiting for solutions, understanding that with creative thinking, working as a team and accepting our differences, we are a dynamic force that can bring about the birth of a new Nigeria”.
During his keynote address on “Entrepreneurship and the Value Mandate”, the founding pastor, The Brook Church, Calabar, Pastor Ose Imiemohon, said a man defined 21st century entrepreneurship as jumping out of an aircraft without a parachute and having to build on mid-air to keep him from crashing.
According to him, “the ability to find opportunity in problems is what defines an entrepreneur and only outstanding entrepreneurs who are constantly coming up with innovation will survive”.
While testifying to the impact of SS-EDC programme on their lives and business, a rice farmer, Mr. Bassey Itu, said he learnt the importance of product packaging which has helped his business tremendously and thanked SS-EDC and CBN for coming up with Anchor borrower’s scheme for rice farmers which has increased productivity and will soon lead to food sufficiency.
Another former participant, Mr. Ignatius Okon, said he started fish farming after taking part in the SS-EDC programme. He now produces three batches of fish yearly.
Another rice farmer, Mr. Akpanke Effiong said joyfully that he now farms three hectares of rice farm and humorously pointed out that he was itching to be at the farm due to the business ethics of dedication which he learned at SS-EDC.
The event ended with a fashion display from selected fashion designers who are beneficiaries of the SS-EDC programme.
The SS-EDC over the years have trained over 9442 participants out of which 3560 businesses have been established and expanded, creating a total of 9,816 direct and indirect jobs.
The centre has assisted 3035 entrepreneurs to access over N1.6 billion ranging from N50,000 to N10 million.