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By Ifeoma Aniagbado  :

The United Nations Development Program ( UNDP), is to partner the state Ministry of Youth Development to empower thousands of young people from Anambra State through the UNDP  sponsored SME start-up/expansion project. 

Speaking on the programme, the UNDP Team Lead, Mrs. Joycee Oburu stated that the ultimate goal of the project is to enhance the youths with Business Startup/expansion plans not just to compete in the state but in the country and globally. 

According to her, the business financing programme will involve disbursement of a grant of ₦100,000 to 10,000 SMEs and will also incorporate mentorship and coaching of the SMEs for higher productivity. 

She also stated that apart from undergoing training and mentorship to ensure that they maximize the grants for business growth, they will also be exposed to the international market.

Mrs.Oburu who noted that they decided to identify with the Ministry of Youth Development because 65% of the SMEs are associated with the youths,  requested for the support of the ministry for the success of the project.

Responding, the Commissioner for Youth Development, Mr Patrick Agha Mba welcomed the UNDP Team and also thanked Governor  Chukwuma Soludo for creating the right environment that is conducive for reputable agencies like UNDP to work in Anambra State through his integrity and credibility in management of resources. 

He said that the target of Mr. Governor as captured in his manifesto is raising 1000 youth millionaires and creating 130 private sector jobs annually in Anambra State, stressing that the governor is very intentional in attracting investors in the state by building of massive roads infrastructure and creating enabling environment to ensure that the private sector thrives in the state. 

He further stated that this is the first time in the history of the state, a youth was appointed to lead the Ministry of Youth Development, which is an indication that Governor Chukwuma Soludo is determined to change the narratives and move youth development to the next level. 

The commissioner also explained that since assumption of office, the Ministry of Youth Development has set the motion for strategic partnership with relevant agencies like UNICEF, NASME, SMEDAN and ITF in order to ensure that policy formulation and implementation for youth development is properly articulated and executed. 

He enumerated the key programmes of the ministry as 1 Youth 2 Skills Solution, Solution Job-KikstartInitiative and the soon to commence skill training programme for those at the primary and secondary school levels, describing the 1 Youth 2 Skills Solution as a total deviation from the usual youth empowerment programmes of the government to more impactful and sustainable programmes. 

Mr Agha Mba emphasised that the 1 Youth 2 Skills Solution is purely a community base programme designed to incorporate five very important stages– Apprenticeship/Vocational Skills Training Scheme, Entrepreneurship Scheme, Cooperative Formation, Business Financing Scheme and One Year Mentorship Scheme. 

He also explained that in the second phase of 1 Youth 2 Skills Solution, 10,000 youths will be empowered, which is an improvement on the 5000 youths who were empowered in the Pilot Phase with vocational and entrepreneurship skills in addition to a sum of N2 billion spent in business financing scheme for start-up/expansion. 

The commissioner maintained that 75% of the businesses funded under the Pilot Phase of the programmes are already showing signs of success based on impact assessment conducted by the ministry and other programme evaluation agencies. 

He also stated that 1 Youth 2 Skills had been adopted the federal government as a result of the successes recorded and that preliminary discussions had been held between the state and the federal government for possible partnership.

The Permanent Secretary of the ministry,  Dr. Martin Agbili, while appreciating the UNDP team for coming, stated that the major programme of Mr. Governor in the Ministry of Youth Development is to see how the ministry can develop the youths and enhance their potentials.

He assured UNDP that the ministry will accord them 100% support since its programmes and that of the ministry are targeted at achieving common goals for the youths of the state. 

Also present during the meeting were the Special Assistant to the Governor on Youth Development, Mr Emeka Tony Omatah, the Executive Assistant to the Governor on Youth Development Mr. Chibuzor Udeh, UNDP State Focal Persons, Wetalu Okosi, Jennifer Odunukwe among others.

* Aniagbado is of the Ministry of Information, Anambra State *

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