Small and Medium Enterprise Development Agency (SMEDAN) on Monday commenced a five-day vocational training for 145 youths in Kwara.
The training, which covered three core areas of catering, tailoring and hairdressing, was under the agency’s National Skills Development Initiative (NBSDI).
One of the resource persons, Mrs Funto Babarinde told the participants that the entrepreneurial skills training would hold on Monday and Tuesday while vocational skills acquisition training would take place on Wednesday and Thursday.
She said that after the training, the participants would be empowered with equipment and materials to start their chosen businesses.
SMEDAN Director-General (DG), Dr Dikko Radda, in his keynote address, described Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) as a critical sub-sector in the Nigerian economy.
Radda, who was represented by Mrs Funto Babarinde, said MSMEs accounted for the majority of the enterprises in Nigeria and the highest number of jobs created in the economy.
“The most recent National MSMEs Survey of 2017 revealed that there are 41,543,028 MSMEs, employing 59,647,954 (76.5 per cent of the labour force) and contributing 49.78 per cent and 7.64 per cent to nominal GDP and exports, respectively.
“These staggering statistics cannot be ignored in any serious economy. Properly harnessed, MSMEs can trigger an entrepreneurial revolution in Industry, Agriculture and Commerce in Nigeria.
“It is in the bid to support the MSMEs in a most practical way that the agency developed the National Business Skills Development Initiative (NBSDI).
“It is a programme designed to provide entrepreneurship skills, vocational skills and provision of empowerment materials (equipment) to fill the capacity gap of the youths.
“The NBSDI enhances youth engagement in productive ventures, thereby ensuring they earn income through filling the artisanal gap in Nigeria,” the DG said.
Radda said that the initiative was designed to ensure that more professional services were provided by local and well-trained young artisans leading to a reduction in job losses to immigrants from neighbouring countries.
“It seeks to pursue a drastic reduction in dependency poverty as most of the out-of-school youths who still rely on stipends from parents are empowered to become self-reliant,” he added.
According to the DG, the programme was being implemented in all the states of the federation and FCT.
He added that a total of 5, 365 entrepreneurs would be impacted with entrepreneurship and vocational skills, and empowerment materials, at the rate of 145 entrepreneurs per state and FCT.
The DG told the participants that the training would improve their business management practice, improved service provision by trained artisans and increase access to finance, equipment and other business resources.
He also said the training would increase the number of formalized artisanal businesses and improve market support services by MDAs and responsible stakeholders to MSMEs.
Radda added that it would also improve the satisfaction level of customers because of the improved service delivery, as well as increase patronage of Nigerian artisans.
The DG added that SMEDAN was implementing the Conditional Grant Scheme (CGS) for micro-enterprises in Nigeria.
“This programme is aimed at formalizing a majority of the micro-enterprises that are mostly operating in the informal sector.
“This programme involves capacity building, registration of the micro-enterprises with the CAC, provision of microinsurance and opening of bank accounts.
According to him, grants of N50, 000 had been provided to each of the 25,000 entrepreneurs under the programme in 16 states.
In her address of welcome, SMEDAN Manager in Kwara, Zainab Abdulmalik said the vocational training was part of the federal government’s intervention to keep the youth out of the street.
She appealed to the participants to take the training seriously and regard it as an opportunity to be self-reliant.
The state Commissioner for Business, Innovation and Technology, Hajia Aminat Lawal urged the participants to develop a passion for the vocation they chose to learn.
The commissioner, represented by a Director in the ministry, Hajia Habibat Saidu, said the training was coming at a time when Gov AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq had lined up many programs and policies in favour of youths.
According to her, as entrepreneurs, they will be employers of labour, rather than employees.
Newsmen report that there were more females than men at the vocational training that would end on Friday.