In a bid to stem the ugly consequences of unemployment, poverty and destitution that confront our society, the Abuja Enterprises Agency, recently, played host to about 42 participants, in Jahi District who undertook training in Agro allied activities ranging from fish breeding, poultry and farming with the aim to assist them with necessary support to help them actualize their dreams, the prgramme took place at Jahi District, Abuja. Jamila Nuhu Musa, was there.
In her welcome address during the General Enterprise Development Programme, the Honourable Minister of State for the FCT, Ola Jumoke Akinjide, represented by Head of FCT Call Centre, Mrs Jumai Ahmadu, said that training is very vital for any organization or individual that aims at progressing as it refers to the process of acquiring the essential skills required for the ventures desired whether they are jobs or businesses.
And in the case of the participants who came for the General Entrepreneurship Development programme, they were to be assisted with training in Agro allied skills for them to overcome obstacles to growth through access to finance, proper business planning and development of entrepreneurial skills in line with the mandate of the Abuja Enterprise Agency (AEA) established in 2005.
On ground to drive the process was a team of resource persons, who presented some papers on Banking and finance, Customer Care and Business Ethics, Team Dynamics, Book Keeping, Marketing and Sales Technique, Personal and Business Visioning amongst others. For practical skills needed to produce their goods and services effectively, the participants during some sessions undertook group work and presentation of their findings.
It will be recalled that when the Abuja Enterprise Agency was built, the minister of state for FCT, during its commissioning, described the edifice as “a physical expression of the commitment of government to the realization of entrepreneurial dreams of the youth, women, fresh graduates and school leavers”.
According to Akinjide, “It’s indeed our belief that the construction of the Abuja Enterprise Agency Entrepreneurship complex would provide an enabling environment for the realisation of our programme of entrepreneurship development, economic safety nets as well as harnessing the creative potentials of our youths, women and the unemployed,” the minister had stated.
According to her, the FCT administration’s vocational training programme had made available N200 million for micro-credit schemes to graduate trainees through the first FCT Microfinance Bank in Kwali Area Council.
The Managing Director of AEA, Aisha Dasuki on her part, welcomed participants saying, the training would enhance their businesses especially as Agro-allied industries remain the driving force to grow the Nigerian economy. This is in line with the thinking of a University Don, Dr Adefowokan Ajila, an agriculturalist at the Obafemi Awolowo University, who, in a report, said: “the comatose nature of the real sector of our economy can be ascribed to the little attention paid to agro-allied industries in a country, where most of our cash crops should have been transformed to raw materials.
“Agro-allied industries are very key to the development of an agricultural environment like ours, where the mainstay of our economy before now was agriculture, with good arable land.
‘’Going by the economic theory of specialisation, nations should produce more of products where they have comparative advantage and by implication, agriculture remains our comparative advantage.
‘’We can develop our economy as a nation by investing more in the agriculture sector and create more employment and wealth through the agro-allied industries.’’
The don blamed the slow growth of the economy on its mono-cultural nature.
He suggested that developing nations like Nigeria which have agriculture as its comparative advantage, should focus on developing some cash crops such as cocoa, coffee and groundnut, among others.
According to him, these crops are important industrial raw materials capable of earning more money for the country and creating more employment opportunities for the populace.
Most participants at the FCT programme were more inclined to agro allied based businesses like fishing, farming and poultry except one participant, Hajiya Edar Shettima Mustafa, whose interest is in creative arts, and therefore embarked on Crocheting, some of which she had made, and presented to the trainers for their assessment.
Hajiya Edar Shettima Mustafa, who is the Ameera FCT I’Itikaf Welfare Management Committee (IWMC), at the programme organised by the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria, SMEDAN, while showcasing what she called her Art creation of beautiful crochet (atumakasa), some hair ribbon made from various fabrics as well as knitted sweat shirt, said she desired to be empowered for her to make more of her stuff which she planned to introduce into the market and also empower other women folks. But she needed the support of SMEDAN to help her move to the next level.
Other participants said they had been struggling to make ends meet, thus setting up a fish pond or poultry business had proved difficult for them as such they expected to get some form of assistance from SMEDAN. It is also a known fact that others who had summoned courage to start with the little they have, fold up within few years because they do not have anything to fall back on when something goes wrong in the business. This is one of the major reasons small and medium businesses crumble aside lack of basic essentials of life like light, water, good roads, effective transportation, availability of lands etc which are still hard to come by in some places in the FCT and other parts of Nigeria.
That was the case of one of the participants, Obioma who said he was a fish farmer with vast knowledge in fish breeding but lacked training and funds to expand his business, which he said had progressed steadily until he started to face some challenges but now needs a boost to be able to stay in the fish market.
According to him, “Am very good at growing fish, I can even tell you when there is a problem with the fish in your pond, I also hatch and sell to other fish growers”, he stated. Before he left the training programme, however, the participant said after meeting with Agro allied experts, who formed the team at the training and conducted the Business clinic at the close of the training, said he was also considering going into farming. “They said I could consider farming aside my fish pond business, he told Peoples Daily. I think it is a good idea but the challenges are what I am worried about, how will I get the land to pursue the farming business in Abuja if SMEDAN does not come to my aid? He asked?
An official of a Micro Finance Bank, said the Bank of Industry may assist in growth of some businesses in line with the assertion of the Managing Director/Chief executive of AEA, Hajiya Aisha Dasuki, who said any business has challenges but they are better enhanced with government initiatives such as training, to improve their businesses.
For any business however, visioning is important, in the words of a resource person at the training, Mr. Popoola Mustafa, who said business vision is the blue print of ultimate achievement. He gave the steps in creating vision for your business as a small or medium entrepreneur. He said: Define the time frame, needs and wants, use past tense language in documentation, do your inner and outer works, be positive about it and map out your vision and date.
For Yomi Kukoyi, another resource person who treated the concept of Finance and Banking, financial literacy is important for a businessman or woman, thus the need to control your assets. He explained the process of writing business plans to include unique selling proposition, terms of delivery, undertaking SWOT analysis and so on. While Mr. Tunde Kuto treated Book Keeping and its importance in assessing your growth for informed decisions like profitability, cash flow, debt management and business expansion.