In an effort to reposition the mindsets of existing business owners and raise potential entrepreneurs in agro and non-agro sectors; build their capacities and financing management skills in the area and expose them to available funding opportunities, Ikono Local Government Council in collaboration with Small And Medium Enterprises Development Agency (SMEDAN), has commenced an intensive business management Skills training, empowerment and business upgrade programme targeted at raising indigenes across all the eleven wards in the area to meet up with business standards.
The well-packaged training programme which is fully paid for by the Council currently has not less than 219 natives of Ikono, undertaking training on how to write business plans, access financial incentives from the CBN, the Federal Government and other finance outfits, will equally expose them to the ideals of identifying business opportunities in dry season farming, registration of business names with Corporate Affairs Commission and forming them into a cooperative societies.
The training which has officials from SMEDAN as trainers, is holding at the Council Secretariat.
Speaking during the training and empowerment programme flag-off, the Chairman of Ikono Local Government Council and facilitator of the programme, Hon Itoro Columba, said he was impressed by the massive turnout of natives for the five day exercise in Ikono.
“I’m seriously impressed by the massive turnout today for this training exercise. We are using today to determine the true- willing trainees. I take it that the numbers who came out here are the willing ones. If we were to place financial tag on this exercise, those who thought of money-sharing would have been disappointed; but I believe this is another level of empowerment. What we do is to empower you with ideas, knowledge and information. Often times, what you even need is idea. With good ideas, you can make money” Mr Columba said.
While noting that education plays a vital role in making anyone a better citizen in the area, he charged them to tap several areas available for business expansion, pledging that many would be selected for assistance.
“I was fifteen years when I started working. In 2007, I floated a media outfit in this State and became not just self-employed but an employer of labour. My belief is that formal Education is supposed to turn us into generalists capable of excelling in whatever we venture into.There are so many opportunities in business financing untapped. So what we are gathered here to do is to empower you with skills that will open your eyes to opportunities”he added.
He added that the loan they were to access from CBN for instance was to be single-digit at the end of the programme, adding that at the end of the training, the trainees would be examined with a view to selecting the most-outstanding trainees for assistance.
“I have the intention to register business names for not less than 30 successful trainees at no cost. In addition to this free training exercise, you will be given study manuals and other study aids. So I come here today, to charge and encourage you to take this training seriously. I remember that you were supposed to pay for certificates at the end, but I have also decided to write off the cost”. Columba added.
In an interview, the State Manager of Small And Medium Enterprises Development Agency, State office in Uyo, Miss Lucy Johnson Ekpenyong, stated that the training was aimed at addressing unemployment in the state as the programme provided skills and knowledge for the teeming natives in the communities, to enable them become self-reliant and economically independent particularly in the area of writing business plans and accessing funding.
Participants at the training ground expressed their gratitude and appreciation to the Council chairman whose gestures brought to them the opportunity and promised to utilize judiciously the knowledge and empowerment from SMEDAN. The programme continues today, Wednesday, 11th September and will span through Friday 13th September.