The Abuja Enterprise Agency AEA, a wealth creation agency of the Federal Capital Territory Administration FCTA has in partnership with the Betterlife Programme for African Rural Woman trained 163 participants under the FCT Rural Skills Acquisition and Sensitization Initiative RuSASI.
The initiative which was conceived during the peak of the COVID 19 pandemic in 2020, was designed to build the capacity of rural communities to produce basic sanitary items such as sanitisers, liquid soaps and antiseptics as a means of curbing the virus while helping the beneficiaries become economically self-reliant.
At the event, the acting Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the agency, Mallam Shehu Abdulkadir said the Agency has however fine-tuned and upgraded the initiative by expanding the curriculum of the programme in line with current trends and deepen its impact.
“This event would not be possible without the strategic and visionary partnership of Better Life Programme for the African Rural Women BLPARW. They have continued to be strong pillars of support for RuSASI. Better Life Programme for the African Rural Women BLPARW supported the first batch of RuSaSi trainees’ additional grants to enhance their businesses.
“The 2nd edition of RuSASI has facilitated the acquisition of Skills in sectors such as confectionery, disinfectants, organic fertilizers and others. We also built their entrepreneurial skills in areas such as Book Keeping and Saving Culture, Customer Relationships, Business Planning, Marketing and Sales amongst other modules so they can effectively start and manage their business.
“163 women and youths were trained in a period of four weeks across four Area Councils; AMAC, Kwali, Kuje and Abaji Area Councils. To enhance their capacity to initiate and sustain their Business Ventures, we will support trainees with starter packs and operational grants”, he said.
The first edition of the programme which kicked off in August 2020 and was completed in February 2021 had participants drawn from Bwari and Gwagwalada Area Councils.
Chairperson, Better Life Programme for the African (Rural) Woman, Hajiya Aisha Babangida who was represented by Solomon Nwachukwu noted that a recent survey had shown that about 94.3 per cent of businesses in Nigeria have been hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“That number is so high considering the number of small businesses in Nigeria. it is obvious that SMEs are the chief employers of labour in Nigeria. A recent report shows that the SMEs in Nigeria have created up to 84 per cent of the jobs in Nigeria. It is no secret that small businesses are usually the backbone of strong economies. If we want to make ours stronger, we need to create more small businesses”, he stated.
He added that the programme believes that empowering women through Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises MSMEs not only improves the socio-economic conditions of women but also contributes to restoring the national economy and provides employment opportunities, thereby contributing to greater social inclusion.
“Besides improving life quality for women entrepreneurs and their households, MSMEs contribute to social change by providing a more positive image of women private entrepreneurship. It is crucial to support the MSMEs in both urban and rural settings as it promotes the advancement of the cottage industry and this BLPARW does through her Multi-Trade Project and various programmes.
“There is, therefore, a need for an increase in the support of MSMEs, female entrepreneurs, rural community development and investment in the entrepreneurship value chain development”, he added.
The highlight of the event was the disbursement of grants and starter packs to the participants of the programme.