The Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) says it will provide 540 entrepreneurs with starter packs to start business in six states.
The states are Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo and Rivers.
SMEDAN’s Director-General, Mr Olawale Fasanya, spoke at the opening ceremony of a five-day training of entrepreneurs on Wednesday in Port Harcourt tagged: National Business Development Initiative (NBSDI).
He said 90 entrepreneurs from each of the states would be trained and supported with kits as part of the Federal Government drive to boost Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME).
“The NBDI programme provides entrepreneurial skills, vocational skills and empowerment materials to fill the capacity gap of our youths.
“It enhances youth engagement in productive ventures, to ensure they earn income through filling the artisanal gap in the country.
“We want to groom young and well-trained artisans to enable them to provide more professional services to Nigerians, so that we don’t continue to lose jobs to immigrants from neighbouring countries,” he said.
Represented by Mrs Funto Babarinde, an official in SMEDAN, Fasanya said the agency had also recently trained 630 entrepreneurs in the North West and 450 entrepreneurs in the South East.
“Here in Rivers, 90 entrepreneurs will learn fashion, fabrication/welding and barbing, and at the end of their training receive equipment.
“At the end of the training, we will improve business management practice and increase access to finance, equipment and other business resources.
“Similarly, we expect that there will be an increase in the number of formalised artisanal businesses and increase patronage to Nigerian artisans, among others,” he added.
Speaking, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Commerce and Industry in Rivers, Lawson Ikuru commended SMEDAN for investing in youths of the state.
He said the ministry was willing to expand its collaboration with the agency to ensure that more Rivers youths benefit from other programmes of the Federal Government.
On his part, the President of Port Harcourt Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (PHCCIMA), Eramus Chukunda said that entrepreneurship was the bedrock of any economy.
“If you engage people in vocational and entrepreneurial skills, it in-turn helps create employment for many and boost the economy.
“So, trainees should not in any way sell their starter packs but rather deploy them for their benefit; their family and the society at large,” he advised the trainees.
One of the beneficiaries, Mrs Mary Joseph, said she had always wanted to learn fashion and design but was unable to do so due to exorbitant fees charged by fashion houses.
“So, I am really excited that I now have the chance to acquire skills in fashion and design at no cost to me,” Joseph said.