The Livelihood Improvement Family Enterprises-Niger Delta (LIFE-ND) Project in Umuahia, Abia state on Tuesday held her first graduation ceremony of the first batch of one hundred and eleven Incubatees (Beneficiaries) of the agro-bussiness training project.
The event was held at Umuahia the Abia state capital had in attendance huge number of incubatees and incubators of the project.
Addressing newsmen about the event was the National Agro-bussiness Coordinator, Mrs Anthonia Esenwa LIFE-ND.
Mrs Esenwa expressed joy noting that the first batch graduands have undergone the training for over a year under the adopted training model by the project.
“We established the model of an unemployed youth been paired with an already established agrobusiness enterprise to learn the trade of the incubator( trainer). They stayed there for a period of time to aquire their own skills, so, today they are graduating which means they are done with the training.” Mrs Esenwa explained.
Mrs Esenwa emphasized that she had advised the graduands not to see the graduation ceremony as the end of the exercise but they should do well to train others. She also admitted that a lot of challenges were encountered during the first batch training and adjustment will be made in the next badge.
Mrs Esewan also revealed that the Incubatees have been given startup capital to kickstart their businesses according to the size of their businesses enterprise.
Also speaking to newsmen about the graduation ceremony was the Abia State Project Coordinator of LIFE-ND, Uchenna Rowland Onyeizu PhD. He expressed excitement haven produced the first batch of the project with his team under his watch.
In his words: “I feel very excited, it has been a long journey, we would have had this graduation ceremony before now but it delayed due to circumstances beyond our control. Each incubation period shouldn’t have lasted more than six months. We thank God today that they are graduating.”
Dr Onyeizu also hinted that another set of graduands numbering one hundred and twenty(120) will be graduated in the next batch in few coming weeks. Dr Onyeizu also admitted that there were challenges training the first batch which calls for adjustment in the next batch.
“Infact we were all learning, both the project and our partners, but we have made the adjustment.” Dr Onyeizu said.
Dr Onyeizu also added that the project adopted the Old Igbo traditional business training model which entails serving a business master for an agreed number of period before been supported to begin his or her own business.
“We are the first to have adopted this model in Nigeria and we can see that it is working. The Incubators and Incubatees are all here and you can see that they are all happy been part of this process.” Dr Onyeizu added.
Dr Onyeizu also hinted that recruitment process for the next batch of the project will soon begin but however noted that there are suplus from the previous batch which may be considered first as fresh beneficiaries for the next batch. He also revealed that adverts will be made on various media platforms for open application.
When asked about the commencement of the next batch recruitment, Dr Onyeizu said “as soon as possible, we are looking at next few weeks to start the next batch of engagement. Our target is that by the end of this year, we would have engaged one thousand incubatees in our web.”
Dr Onyeizu also added that the Incubators were paid service charge for the Incubatorship and apprenticeship period while seed capital was paid to the Incubators on behalf of the incubatees to ensure that their facilities are up to date. The Incubatees were said to be paid monthly stipends to help them facilitate their movement to incubation centers.
“Beyond that seed capital, as they finish their apprenticeship, we provided working Capital which ranges from one million naira(N1m) to one million, five hundred thousand naira(N1.5m) and it is provided in form of input of the value. The inputs are provided so that the incubatees can use it to begin their agrobusinesses.” Dr Onyeizu explained.
During the event, some of the Incubators were rewarded for their outstanding concentration and performance during their training period as monitored by Mr. Chukwuekezie Godwin, the Agric Business Promotion Officer for Abia LIFE-ND at their various incubation centers.
Ihedigbo Amadikwa Andrew who was trained on poultry production at Munis Poultry Global Farm was awarded the best Incubatee of the first batch of the Abia LIFE-ND project with a reward cheque of two hundred thousand naira (N200,000) for outstanding performance. He expressed joy for the cash reward and recognition.
In his words: “Infact I haven’t seen such a project like this before, I thank the organizers of this project for making it successful. Assuming they want to collapse this project, they would have done so, rather, they wants us to become useful to our society. Having passed through this training, I Know I will excell.”
Nwaobia Sandra, another Incubatee trained at Nwagbara poultry farm, Ohanze, Obingwa local government area of Abia State, was awarded the second best graduating Incubatee of the first batch with a cheque reward of one hundred and fifty thousand naira (150,000). Nwaobia expressed joy and narrated her long search for white collar job before handed the opportunity with LIFE-ND.
In her words: ” I am a Graduate of Chemical Engineering, I served in Katsina, after my youth service, I started searching for job. For the first six months, I submitted my CV to 380 companies and only few called me for interview and since then I never heard from them. There’s no job in Nigeria, it is better you start from somewhere.” Sandra advised.
Idimogu Chukwuka, also trained at Hope Poultry farm was awarded the third best Incubatee with a reward cheque of one hundred thousand naira(N100,000). He thanked LIFE-ND for the training and promised to be consistent in his business and uged the organizers of the project not to relent on their effort to train more Youths.
Some physically challenged persons among the graduands received their certificates.
The outstanding Incubators were not left out as they also got rewarded in cheques for their outstanding performance training excellent Incubatees.
The LIFE-ND Project is being funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development(IFAD). The project is ongoing in the nine Niger-Delta States.
Also involved in the project are the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, The Federal Ministry of Finance, budget and National Planning, and the United Nations.