By Ike Uchechukwu
About 500 youths and women in Cross River have been selected to undergo an entrepreneurial development training in the state after which they will receive up to N10 million each to start up or expand their businesses.
The initiative which is a partnership between the Central Bank of Nigeria through the Agro Small and Medium Enterprises Investment Scheme (AGSMIS) and Cross River Government seeks to empower up to 3,000 youths and women between 2020 and 2023 and to stem the tide of irregular migration out of the nation.
Speaking at the launch of the scheme on Tuesday in Calabar, Gov. Ben Ayade said the office of the Migration Control Service was created in the state to ensure that youths remained in the state and access viable opportunities for a better life.
Ayade represented by his Deputy, Prof. Ivara Esu disclosed that a lot of youths think life was easier outside the country, hence, they embarked on the dangerous journey abroad through the deserts and Mediterranean sea, as a result of which many lose their lives and others become slaves.
He said the partnership which would see youths get trained by experts from the Nigeria Youths Chamber of Commerce will not only provide a platform for training but also access to finance.
He said :”I am happy the programme has started, 200 youths have been selected in the first phase to benefit from the training and access to finance, I hope as time goes on, the programme will expand to accommodate more people.
“It is a thing of pride to own your own business, so, I want to encourage the youths to stop looking for white-collar jobs and start owning their businesses through which they can employ other youths, thus, stemming the tide of unemployment and irregular migration, he said.
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Earlier, in his remark, Mr Michael Abuo, Director General, Cross River, Migration Control Services revealed that the initiative was to ensure that opportunities available within the state, nationally and internationally were properly utilised to create room for youths and women in the state.
Abuo said the beneficiaries would be trained for a week after which they would be guided to submit their business proposals to have access to finance of up to N10 million to start or expand their businesses.
“The funding comes from the CBN through AGSMIS put in place by the Federal Government to provide finance for small and medium scale enterprises both startups and already existing businesses.
“What we are basically doing as a state is creating the platform for our people to key into the initiative and to access the opportunities that are available.
“We are however hoping that in the first phase, 200 jobs will be created directly while about 1,000 would be created indirectly, through the value chain created by each of the businesses,” he said.