Some of the women posing for photographs after the training
No fewer than 80 women agro-processors in Enugu State have been trained under the Women In Self Employment Programme (Wise-P) of the Small And Medium Enterprises Development Agency Of Nigeria (SMEDAN).
The agro-processors who are from various rural areas in Enugu State were drawn from eight agricultural and agro-processing co-operative societies within the state.
In an address at the closing ceremony of the four-day training in Enugu on Friday, the Director-General of SMEDAN, Olawale Fasanya, said that Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) sub-sector “remains a very important sub-sector in the Nigerian economy”.
According to Fasanya, they (MSMEs) collectively account for a majority of the enterprises in Nigeria and also account for the highest number of jobs created in the economy.
“The most recent National MSMEs Survey of 2020 revealed that there are 39.6 million MSMEs; employing 62.5 million persons (80.2 per cent of the labour force) and contributing 46.31 per cent and 6.21 per cent to nominal GDP and exports respectively.
“The power of self-employment is not only inherent in providing a job for one self but also in providing job opportunities and employing others to work and earn a living also.
“It is said that when you train a woman you train a nation; and when you further empower a woman you have liberated the nation.
"Women no doubt are the bedrock of many families and the society.
“Priority attention to this gender group, therefore, cannot be relegated nor over emphasised in any of the field of endeavour they have chosen to be identified with,” he said.
The director-general said that available evidence had shown that a lot of women are into farming and many more are willing to take up farming or agri-business as a means of livelihood and self-employment.
He said that, however, women were limited in progress because they do not have the requisite skills and finance required to carry on successfully and even access markets.
“Having identified the above gaps, and in-order to spur more interest of women into farming and agri-business, and to assist those in active farming, SMEDAN initiated WISE-P programme with particular focus on women who are into farming and agri-business (agro value chain) production.
“The WISE-P will be a platform of providing incentives that would ease some of the gaps/challenges identified above.
“The programme is designed to provide entrepreneurship training, vocational training, empowerment with common facilities and delivery of Business Development Service (BDS) for eight cooperative societies of 10 members each totalling 80 participants per state.
“The programme is targeting 13 states across the six geo-political zones making a total of 1040 participants.
"The first phase of the programme was held on Dec. 12 in six states - Osun, Ebonyi, Katsina, Bauchi, Ekiti and Kwara.
“The second phase of the programme commenced simultaneously in Jigawa, Delta, Taraba, Kogi, Bayelsa and Enugu,” he said.
Fasanya further explained that WISE-P is designed basically to promote self-reliance among women and to empower them in order to achieve improved productivity and sustainability in agricultural businesses.
“These agricultural businesses included crop farming and agro-processing along the value chains and to boost production of raw materials for industrial use/development,” he said.
He noted that the participants were given transport fee and refreshment each day of the training; while SMEDAN would provide multi-purpose industrial drier to the eight cooperative societies that had participated in the training.
One of the participants, Nnenna Ejim, said that the training had exposed her more on the need for proper and careful book-keeping practises as it aimed the growth of businesses.
“I sincerely thank the Federal Government through SMEDAN for providing this opportunity for training and we have learnt good book-keeping practises and its opportunities,” Ejim, who is the Coordinator of Chidiebube Nenwe Women Multi-Purpose Cooperative Society, said.
Another named Cordelia Okwu, who is from Golden Step Multi-purpose Cooperative, said that the training had opened her knowledge on more benefits derivable from cassava processing her cooperative daily engage in.
“I laud SMEDAN for such a knowledge impacting training and I have learnt other uses and profits derivable from cassava processing as well as need for networking and expanding our market nationally and internationally,” Okwu said.