• Thursday, July 18, 2024
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New wave of planned economic development in Onitsha rides on social enterprises

Obi of Onitsha

From a spontaneous fight against coronavirus, the Onitsha community, on the east bank of river Niger in eastern Nigeria has evolved three sustainable social enterprises as avenues for lifting residents out of poverty.

Covering entrepreneurship mentorship, technological skills acquisition, and financial intermediation, social enterprises are the arrowheads of an economic empowerment programme in Onitsha.

These are the Onitsha Leadership and Entrepreneurship Centre (OLEC); (Onicha) Ado Business Incubation Centre (ABIC), and a Microfinance Institution/Microfinance Bank (MFI/MFB). OLEC would focus on creating a passion for entrepreneurship, business management, and administration.

It would also show young indigenous entrepreneurs how to create and grow small businesses. Alex Ike Ikeme a teacher, coach, facilitator, and mentor with over three decades of experience in entrepreneurship development studies and practice leads OLEC.

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ABIC would serve as a catalyst tool to help new technology start-ups to grow and develop, including helping to accelerate and make optimum use of incubator resources. Charles Uchenna Emembolu, an information technology architecture expert leads the ABIC workgroup.

The MFI/MFB offers financial resources to low or medium-income populations, in addition to targeting financial services at self-employed, micro, and small businesses generally overlooked in society. Nnamdi Anammah, a financial expert with a track record covering commercial banking, corporate finance, and stockbroking leads the MFI/MFB workgroup.

“This exercise has called for substantial hard work as we progressed from Onitsha Community COVID-19 Response Programme (OCCRT) to the Economic Empowerment Study Panel (EESP), and now the Onitsha Advancement Foundation (OnAF) interventions, which we are now embarking upon,’’ Nnaemeka Achebe, Agbogidi, Obi of Onitsha said. “We can now clearly see the great possibilities that lie ahead as we work towards lifting Onitsha out of poverty.’’

The Onitsha Advancement Foundation (OnAF), an incorporated entity initiated by the Onitsha Traditional Council drives the economic empowerment programme. OnAF has been restructured with an expanded Board of Directors made up of part-time members, all highly experienced, hardworking, and dedicated Onitsha indigenes; an Advisory Board composed of members of the Onitsha Traditional Council and constituent groups, and Workgroups of Onitsha professionals focused on implementing specific aspects of the Economic Empowerment Programme.

Onitsha community has also planned to establish a health and well-being workgroup that will determine the modalities for a community’s basic health-care programme.

Behavioural changes would be required to achieve these goals. To this end, values reorientation campaigns have designed as critical enablers for the Economic Empowerment Programme. The campaigns are designed to drive new work, study, life ethic for Onitsha indigenes which is in tune with the times and able to power a rebirth of thrift, industry, achievement, and pride on a global scale.

“In principle, this is for Onitsha indigenes. But given the makeup of the metropolis, the effect would be felt by all regardless of their origin,” Nnaemeka Maduegbuna, a communications consultant, spokesperson of the Foundation told BusinessDay.

Onitsha experts working on the project have said the Obi of Onitsha leads this charge to support budding entrepreneurs who are indigenes by equipping them with mentorship, technological skills, and funding. This is part of the “Take Onicha Ado N’Idu to the Next Level”, which explored the developmental and competitive requirements of the ancient kingdom.