-Blank NEWS Online (NIGERIA) –By Albert OGRAKA:
In spite of the current global economic downturn caused by the Coronavirus pandemic, the job and wealth creation programmes of the Delta State have continued to receive commendations, following the establishment of additional 107 STEP graduates with starter packs.
A statement made available to Blank NEWS Online by the Coordinator, Media and Publicity, Office of the Chief Job Creation Officer, Gertrude Onyekachukwu-Uteh revealed that the establishment of this Second Batch of STEPreneurs who recently completed their training meritoriously brings the total number of beneficiaries established so far in the 2019/2020 Programme Cycle to 219.
In line with COVID-19 prevention guidelines, the Skills Training and Entrepreneurship Programme (STEP) beneficiaries who are of the 2019/2020 Cycle are categorized into groups of twenty persons and scheduled to receive their starter packs either in the morning or afternoon sessions in Asaba.
Targeted at beneficiaries whose training duration was for three or four months under the Green STEP and Brown STEP categories respectively, the handing out of starter packs began yesterday, 22/7/20, and would last for three days.
Reactions from the beneficiaries show enthusiastic and well-motivated youths. According to Kelvin Athora (Udu LGA), he was trained in Audio-Visual and Photography under Green STEP.
He expressed his gratitude to the state government for the opportunity, affirming that the starter pack would help him to earn a living and to train other youths.
Akpduado Glory (Ughelli South LGA) trained in Fashion and Textile Design said she worked as a sales girl because her parents had no money to establish her in the fashion business after her training.
She exclaimed she was relieved of her worry when she got engaged in the programme and resumed training January this year as a Brown STEP trainee.
Itemizing her starter packs, she said she received an industrial sewing machine, an industrial weaving machine, a generator, a cutting table, an electric iron and ₦96,000.00 microcredit for shop rent in Ughelli.
She maintained that she was satisfied with her starter pack, expressing her readiness to work hard to become financially independent, to train and employ other youths to work for her.
On the part of Favour Oseoghene Dennis (Isoko South) in Fashion and Textile Design, her mother, Mrs Oletu Ewoma, threw caution to the wind as she danced round joyously in appreciation of the Governor Okowa-led government for the opportunity given to her daughter.
“I am dancing because I did not expect this kind of starter pack for my daughter. I did not have money to train her in school. I would not have been able to buy all these for her. God has used Governor Okowa to establish her. As her mother, I will guide her to ensure that she applies the knowledge acquired and these items to improve herself and that of our family,” she enthused.
Earlier the Chief Job and Wealth Creation Officer, Prof Eric Eboh, congratulated the graduands for completing the training successfully, considering how challenging it was for them to go through the various activities in the programme such as the Orientation and Personal Effectiveness Training; hands-on training; Completion Proficiency Test and the Entrepreneurship and Business Management Training.
Represented by the Coordinator of STEP, Mr Onyeisi Nkenchor, Prof Eboh stated that their ability to complete the training successfully in spite of the Coronavirus Pandemic was occasioned by the state government’s commitment to improving the state economy through entrepreneurship development and their willingness to be trained.
“Despite the harsh economic realities in the state due to the Coronavirus Pandemic, the Governor has kept to his promise of establishing them with starter packs. More than 95% of you were successful in the Completion Proficiency Test which was a clear indication that you participated actively during training. Today 107 of you are being established in Fashion and Textiles Design; Audio Visual and Photography; Hairdressing, Makeover and Braiding,” he noted.
He disclosed that the starter pack component is a grant while the shop rent is a microcredit with a six months moratorium payable within 24 months, adding that it was structured in such a way that the loan could easily be repaid.
While advising them to take their businesses seriously and to maximize the opportunity to reduce the unemployment rate in the state, he urged them to keep in touch with the job creation office always.
It could be recalled that the state government’s Skills Training and Entrepreneurship Programme (STEP) and the Agricultural Entrepreneurs Programme (YAGEP) have in the past five years engaged over 5,000 Delta youths.