• Wednesday, June 19, 2024
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BusinessDay

How entrepreneurship development is fast gaining traction in A/Ibom

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…As 800 trainees get N400million grant

Entrepreneurship development is fast gaining ground and the move to change the status of Akwa Ibom State from its erstwhile civil service toga to that of an emerging industrial hub appears to be in full swing.

It all began with the launch of the ARISE Agenda by Governor Umo Eno as soon as he assumed office late last year, an economic blueprint designed to provide the roadmap towards the economic development of the state. As contained in the blueprint, the ARISE Agenda which is an acronym for Agriculture Revolution, Rural Development, Infrastructure Maintenance, Security Management, Economic and Industrial Advancement.

At the Ibom Dialogue meet which brought people of all walks of life together for the launch of the ARISE Agenda, governor Umo Eno stated that the state government would equip the people with the necessary skills to make them competitive in the economic development of the state.

“We will equip our people with the necessary skills to be competitive and plans are in top gear to set up the Ibom Leadership Entrepreneurial Development Centre (Ibom LED),’’ he had said. Ibom LED has been at the forefront of training prospective entrepreneurs as seen recently during the presentation of the N500,000 grants to 800 trainees who had been trained and equipped with the skills needed towards the economic advancement of the state.

Apart from this grant which marked a major step forward, according to observers in the quest for the transformation of the economic landscape of Akwa Ibom state, other credit facilities and empowerment schemes have also been implemented either for the youths, women groups or people living with disability or farmers.

However, the N500,000 grants to 800 trainees appears to be more significant in many ways as it followed a defined training scheme under the Entrepreneurship Accelerator Development (EAD) programme where the beneficiaries were exposed to various training modules.

Speaking at the presentation of the grants, Eno expressed delight that the idea which he had nursed many months ago had come to fruition.

“I’m delighted to announce a significant stride in our pursuit of industrial advancement in economic and wealth creation under the ARISE Agenda in Akwa Ibom State. I’m excited to announce the allocation of N400 million in grants to 800 deserving beneficiaries of our Entrepreneurship Accelerator Programme (EAP). These grants signify our unwavering commitment to fostering entrepreneurship and wealth creation in our community.

“Congratulations to all the recipients who have successfully completed the programme! You are now ambassadors of the EAP, and I have complete confidence in your ability to utilize this opportunity for personal and economic growth. Remember, success lies within your grasp, and with dedication and perseverance, you can achieve remarkable results.

“As a government, we stand firmly behind you, ready to provide support and guidance as you embark on your entrepreneurial journey. Let’s continue cultivating a culture of innovation and enterprise, empowering our people and propelling Akwa Ibom State towards a prosperous future.”

According to him, “I like to say clearly here that whether this programme will continue or not depends on you because you are the ambassadors of this programme. You are not all totally new in businesses or entrepreneurship. I am not concerned about the little seed that’ll be put in your hands, but the training you’ve received.”

The governor, who took time to advise the beneficiaries on some business tips said, “everything you need to succeed is in your hands. For now, don’t be politicians, just be an entrepreneur. This is an opportunity for you to have a primary address. If you’ve a primary address, politics is secondary.

“People will respect you for what you can do. This little money is a seed and if you plant it well, it will bring a mighty harvest. I remember that, in this state, I opened my hotel with just five rooms, and a few years later, we had grown exponentially.

“The first thing is that you must make up your minds to succeed and, in that determination, there will be a place of sacrifice and self-denial. People will tell you all manner of things, don’t mind them. Your time will soon arrive. Above all, this community has been created; stay around the community and don’t try to impress people. As a government, we’ll continue to support you. This is just the beginning,” he added.

The governor, who was moved by compassion while presenting the cheque to a physically challenged beneficiary, Jones Okon Akpan of Jones Manufacturing, directed that he be given a good means of mobility as well as an additional support.

In his remarks, the team lead of Ibom Leadership and Entrepreneurship Development, Imoabasi Jacob, appreciated the Governor for the vision, commitment and support for the Akwa Ibom business community and assured that given the quality training to the beneficiaries, the grants will yield the desired dividends.

Presenting a keynote address, the Head of Alumni Directorate and Support Services, Enterprise Development Center, Pan-Atlantic University (EDC) Lagos, Nnenna Ugwu advised the beneficiaries to cultivate the culture of discipline, commitment and focus to enable them succeed in their different business ventures.

Also speaking, the Director General of the Umo Eno/Akon Eyakenyi campaign, Assam Assam SAN, appreciated the Governor for keeping to his campaign promises, and advised the beneficiaries to see the seed money as a springboard that will put them in the global map of entrepreneurship.

In their separate messages of appreciation, the General Manager of Ibom-LED, Ekaette Umoh, and the Alumni President for Batch 1, Daniel Esetang, appreciated the Governor for the vision which according to them has translated to a life-time empowerment for 800 Akwa Ibomites.

They assured that the grant will be judiciously used for expansion of their businesses and for the greater good of the State.

High point of the event was the presentation of cheques to beneficiaries from the different programmes including; Ibom-LED Entrepreneurship Accelerator Programme (EAP), Ibom-LED Business Leadership and Entrepreneurship Programme (BLEP), Ibom-LED Business Mastery Programme (BMP), and Ibom-LED Start-Up Accelerator and Incubation Programme.

Advising the beneficiaries to make good use of the funds, Dorothy Thompson, chairman of the state Ethical and Attitudinal Reorientation Commission (EARCOM) said they should plough back the money into their businesses and avoid spending the money on other distractions that will defeat purpose.

Thompson who commended Governor Eno for keeping his pledge to support entrepreneurs and create wealth described the release of N400 million as grants to 800 beneficiaries of the State’s Entrepreneurship Accelerator Programme, as a welcome development which will energise the business sector of the state and enhance the potentialities of small and medium scale enterprises.

According to her, the era of free money is over and urged them to learn a skill, trade or vocation and get involved in the productive sector so that their lots might improve.

On the possible distractions, she warned that the 500,000 Naira grant is not meant for the purchase of new smartphones, designer clothes or jamborees but for investment as seed to boost their businesses and productive capacity.

She also thanked Governor Eno for declaring two Fridays in a month for farming and urged all civil servants to take advantage of the policy to engage in agriculture to help them achieve food security going forward.

Indeed,the ball is in the court of the 800 beneficiaries to make good use of the funds in charting a new course for the economic development of the state.

Entrepreneurs are catalysts in economic and industrial development of the society. It is believed that with the generous grant of N400 million to 800 trainees, the state government has moved economically towards reshaping the industrial landscape of Akwa Ibom State.