By Sunday Ani
To reduce the army of unemployed Nigerians idling about, particularly the womenfolk, a non-governmental organisation (NGO), I-Safe, has trained 25 persons, comprising 24 women and a physically challenged man.
At the graduation held recently in Yaba, Lagos State, the project director for I-Safe, Mrs. Amaka Nneji, said the training, which involved garment-making, leather works, digital skills as well as business development skills, was supported by the Global Philanthropy Alliance.
According to Mrs. Nneji, I-Safe is an organisation committed to making the world a better place for women and girl-child by empowering them to understand that they could fight back gender violence. She said the organisation does not just stop at training the beneficiaries, it also supports them with grants to start small-scale businesses, particularly along the line of the skills they were trained in.
She equally noted that the three-month training was in partnership with the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSTF), which would also give soft loans to the trainees in addition to the start up grants from the I-Safe.
The programme, according to her, was open to women between the ages of 18 and 40, but mostly married women, because they are more prone to domestic violence.
“Most women here are those who had stories to tell and after their stories we felt for them and decided to include them in the training,” she said.
The representative of the LSTF, Mrs. Kemi Monyei, who is also the Micro Enterprise Start-up Officer for the agency, said the soft loans attract only 10 per cent interest.
She said the LSTF was established to create entrepreneurial opportunities for residents of Lagos State. She also said her role involves working with vocational centres and individuals who have acquired skills and are willing to continue on that line: “We support such persons with loans. Our objective is that, as time goes on, their businesses will expand so that they will be able to employ more people. I am here to enlighten them on how to access the fund to start up their businesses.
“We give between N50,000 and N250,000 for a start, but, as time goes on, the person can access as much as N5 million. We deal with organisations that are credible. We don’t accept certificates from individuals. It is either you are registered with the Lagos State Government or a credible organisation.”
She said the agency has been working with Girls-Inspired, the parent body of I-Safe, and promised that the working relationship would continue.
One of the beneficiaries, Awojope Toyin, who trained in catering, confirmed that the training was educative, an eye-opener.
“One of the new things I learnt was the digital skill. My business wasn’t online before, but I have now learnt how to market and even brand it online, using Instagram.
“When I started posting my food on Instagram, I discovered that more people placed orders. We were also taught how to attract and retain customers, good customer relations. We learnt how to keep financial records. I now know the difference between net profit and gross profit; I never knew that before. I thought I was making profit but this training opened my eyes,” she said.
She expressed gratitude to the organisers, saying, “This is an eye-opener to business. I am happy and honoured. I thank the I-Safe management, their partners and the lecturers. I was not able to operate a laptop before but this training has exposed me to that. In fact, I gained a lot.”
Another beneficiary, Ajayi Blessing Titilayo, who trained in tailoring and fashion design, described the experience as very exciting.
“We were taught how to take our business online because the world has gone global. The training opened our eyes to that. In short, I feel so happy and excited,” she said.
For the only man among the 25 beneficiaries, Godfrey Ekhoe, who is physically challenged, God would continue to bless I-Safe for the opportunity given to him.
Although he was making different kinds of bags before the training, the training has also exposed him to shoemaking.
“I now make bags and shoes. I really appreciate the organisation for this opportunity. I feel very great and pray that God will continue to bless them,” he said.