• Tuesday, July 23, 2024
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Seplat Energy empowers entrepreneurs with N16.5m seed fund

FG to empower SMEs through new initiative to boost innovation

Seplat Energy has empowered entrepreneurs with over N16 million seed funding and skills development in various trades including catering, shoe making, cosmetics among others.

According to Chioma Nwachuku, director of external affairs and sustainability, Seplat energy, the programme is aimed at developing participants’ leadership skills, social entrepreneurship and business management abilities, through generalised and targeted capacity building workshops.

Nwachuku, who spoke at the commemoration of the 2023 Seplat global entrepreneurship fellowship program in Abuja on Monday, said that the entrepreneurs’ ability to act on their ideas is supported through equipment funding, as well as mentoring.

“This year, we are celebrating the 23 successful graduates who received a cumulative funding of N16.5 million in seed money.

“Through this programme, we aim to enhance their lives by giving them the opportunity to forge their own way and have a say in the future of their country,” she said.

Quoting the International Labour Organisation report, Nwachuku noted that global unemployment level is slated to rise in 2023 by around 3 million, to 208 million adding that youth unemployment has remained a major concern for Nigeria.

She further stated that under the programme, which is delivered in partnership with Conversations 4 Change (C4C) initiative, each beneficiary has shown resilience, creativity and innovation through the duration of the yearly program.

“They have now become our proof of concept that we can truly make Nigeria better by investing in the youth, one young person (or more) at a time.

“That is why, at Seplat Energy, we are proud to play a pivotal role in changing the narrative for young people in Nigeria.

“Since 2019, Conversations For Change and Seplat Energy Plc have worked together to ensure that we improve the lives of young Nigerians by supporting them to start and sustain their business enterprises.

“Through this partnership, we have successfully trained and supported 3 batches of fellows; about 55 young entrepreneurs who are thriving, despite the odds stacked against businesses in the country.

“Our CSR Programmes are aligned to the closure of SDG 1 (no poverty), SDG 2 ( Zero Hunger), SDG 3 ( good health and well-being), SDG 4 ( Quality education),and SDG 8 ( decent work and economic growth),” she said.

Arunma Oteh, an independent non-executive director, Seplat Energy stressed on the need for the government to create an enabling environment for small businesses to thrive in the country.

For her, Nigeria’s spending on debt servicing is quite high and worrisome, adding that the government has not done enough in developing the country.

She said, “I hope that the government will focus at all levels on creating an enabling environment for each one of you (entrepreneurs) and others to thrive. Nigerians don’t want handouts.

Read also: Advancing digital entrepreneurship and financial inclusion for women in Africa

“They just want you to create an enabling environment. And if you can’t create a living environment, they want you to just step aside so that we can progress.

“Every nation is facing challenges,but there is no excuse for our nation to be where it is today.

“Give or take, we are spending all of our revenues on debt servicing. At a forum on Thursday, I said to the participants that can you imagine a household where you haven’t paid for your children’s education and transport, and there’s a health problem, you can’t pay.

“You are just taking all that money and using it for debt servicing. There’s no household that can survive like that. On top of that, we have an inflation rate of 20 per cent.”

In his remark, Bello Rabiu an independent non executive director, seplat energy stated that the program is worth investing in, “and as long as the company exists we will continue to finance the project.”