By Etuka Sunday
The Aliko Dangote Foundation has flagged off its one-off and unconditional Micro-grants Programme in Niger State with 25,000 disadvantaged women as beneficiaries bringing the total number of women beneficiaries to 256,500 across seven states of the federation.
Chairman of the Aliko Dangote Foundation, Aliko Dangote said weekend at the flag-off ceremonyheld at the Justice Idris Legbo Kutigi International Conference Centre, Minna, the Niger State capital that his Foundation had earmarked N10billion for the empowerment of vulnerable women in the 774 Local Governments in the country.
He said one thousand women were drawn from each of the Niger state’s 25 local government areas.
“The Micro-grants programme is one component of the Economic Empowerment pillar of the Foundation. It provides disadvantaged and vulnerable women with a one-off, unconditionalN10,000.00 cash transfer to boost their household income generation. This we believe will help reduce their vulnerability and meet their livelihood needs,” he added.
Dangote explained that since the Foundation commenced disbursement in 2012, about 256,500 women have benefitted from the programme across Kano, Lagos, Jigawa, Kogi, Adamawa, Borno and Yobe States, with a total disbursement ofN2.565 Billion so far.
Mr. Dangote said: “I do not only want to be known as the Africa’s Richest Man, but the biggest philanthropist. I will continue to use my resources and my voice to help shape a better Nigeria, and Africa as a whole.”
The Niger State Governor, Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello, speaking at the event appreciated the gesture of Dangote for touching the lives of ordinary Nigerians, especially vulnerable women.
Governor Bello extolled the Aliko Dangote Foundation for the generosity extended to poor women in his state and urged them to use it to start small businesses so the Foundation would be pleased to do more.
He praised the public spirit of Alhaji Dangote and urged other well-meaning Nigerians to emulate such a good gesture to impact the society.
The Foundation’s Executive Director and daughter to the Chairman, Hajiya Halima Aliko Dangote, said the Foundation was poised to help lift the status of womanhood in the country, adding: “If you empower a woman, you empower the whole nation.”
She stated that women have always bear the brunt of the harsh economic reality in the country and the Aliko Dangote Foundation reasoned that they should be the target of such critical intervention as the disbursement with the hope that the benefits will cascade down the family line with women as the maker of the home and improve the family wellbeing.
Managing Director of the Foundation, Zouera Yussouffou said the micro grant scheme was part of the four cardinal crust of the Foundation which are: Health and Nutrition, Education, Economic Empowerment and Disaster Relief.
She stated that the Foundation has been delivering its core mandate across the four cardinal trusts in a strategic manner that ensures its objectives clearly marked out are fully achieved
Giving a breakdown of how the beneficiaries were selected, the Representative of the office of the Secretary to the State Government, Ms Ruth Isa said five women were selected from each polling units in Niger State, adding that the beneficiaries cut across socio-political and religious groups to ensure even spread.
Speaker of the Niger State House of Assembly, Ahmed Marafa commended Aliko Dangote and urged the beneficiaries to use the grants to transform their lives.
Responding, one of the beneficiaries, Rabi Ibrahim, said the grant will enable her to start trading in clothing, soap and perfume. She prayed God to continue to bless the family of Aliko Dangote and his Group.
Another beneficiary, Aisha Haruna from Bosso Local Government said she was highly elated and that she almost couldn’t believe it, just as she added that she will use the money to boost her trading in charcoal and other petty trading.