Judex Okoro, Calabar
As part of the drive to empower communities within their area of operations, the Nigerian Bottling Company through the Global Youths Initiative has empowered 500 youths in Soutt-South zone in various skills.
The programme, targeted at youths between the ages of 18 to 30, is aimed at empowering youths with business proposals; entrepreneurial and networking skills that will enable them impact positively on their lives and ultimately reduce unemployment in the country.
The programme, which started in 2017, has been conducted for youths in several states across the country including Lagos, Port Harcourt, Kaduna, Enugu and Abuja. The ancient City of Calabar is the 9th City that has benefited from it.
Speaking during the training held at Vanecian Arena, Calabar, the Communications Director of NBC, Mr Ekuma Eze, said the programme is aimed at empowering the youths and also helping government reduce the rising scourge of unemployment in the society.
According to him, “What we are doing here today is what we call Youth Empower Nigeria and its part of our global initiative aimed at empowering young people between the ages of 18 – 30 years with life skills, business skills and of course long lasting networks that will enable them transit to meaningful employment.
“Calabar is the ninth city that we are having the workshop since we launched it in October 2017 and up till now, we have reached over 16 thousand young people in Nigeria with the skills mentioned. We are here in Calabar in furtherance of that purpose and to support the government also in the area of unemployment and of course under employment.
“We have different components of the programme, we have done our own inquest and a greater percentage of the youths are much more inclined to entrepreneurship. So we have also designed the programme along that line and in the course of the progrmme, we have what is called the Business idea competition.
“The best business idea that we see here we are going to encourage them to start a company and also provide the initial funding to them to realize the business idea. So we are going to have a startup company here and these youths will form the board and management of the company in order to bridge the unemployment gap. Surely, some of them will leave here fired up to start their own micro businesses.
“For those who will be interested in paid employment, we have a module that addresses how to prepare your CV in a way that attracts an employer, what are the things you need to know before going for an interview and also we are going to simulate an interview session here as part of the training.
According to Eze, they are targeting “500 youths in this life workshop and for those who cannot physically attend the programme can also participate digitally through our Digital Hub. He added that they will also undergo the same programme and have mentors online who will train them and at the end of the day they have the same training.
On the issue of unemployment, the Communications Director said: “It is not possible to leave employment in the hands of government alone. The duty of government is to provide the enabling environment for the private sector to thrive. So this is our own modest way of contributing to the Nigerian youths because we believe in them and also believe that when they are given the space they can be globally competitive.”
Some of the participants who spoke with our correspondent commended the organizers for offering them the opportunity to improve on themselves and also sharpen their skills while a few expressed dismay at the non-provision of stipends to take care of sundry expenditure.
One of the youths, Adeboye Victoria Omotolane, from Porth Harcourt, said: “This programme is a nice programme and I have really learnt a lot and enjoyed it. The programme has educated me on how to go ahead in my next plan. I now have a clearer picture of what I intend to do and how to go forward.
“The training was very interactive. It thought us how to interact with your customers; how to make use of subtle languages and also how to encourage them. You also get to know how to make proper use of your business. I thank Coca Cola for giving us this opportunity because this is quite a good platform for us to properly develop ourselves and grow”, Adeboye said.
Also speaking, a youth corps member serving in Calabar, Adebowale Jones, said: “It has been a wonderful experience though I came late but what I have learnt here has been quite worthwhile in terms of our personal development. We have been able to meet wonderful people who have schooled us on the art of properly developing ourselves.
“I’m a businessman and this is an opportunity to develop my contacts more. So this training has come in the nick of time and will enable us do better going forward and also networking more”.
Blessed Orji on her part said: “So far I have been able to learn about networking and communication skills. Before now, I thought networking was all about when you want to market to buy a product, but I have learnt that even when scouting for opportunities and internships, you build relationships because networking is very important and vital.
“Besides, you cannot network properly if you do not communicate properly. So your body language, gestures, tone, the way you carry yourself and your approach is very important when networking. Therefore, in order not to be rejected by your audience, it’s better that you put all these skills together so that you can breakthrough in your chosen endeavor”.