Arinze Chilo-Offiah, is the special adviser on SME Development and Investment Promotion, as well as Head, Enugu SME Center. Since his appointment in 2019, he has refocused interest on youths in the state, by training and empowering them to earn good living and impact the state’s economy.
In this interview, Chilo-Offiah speaks on the state’s SME Centre, the novel e-YES initiative, among other empowerment schemes in the state.
What we’re doing at SME Centre e-YES
The SME Centre is all about job creation and empowerment. It has been a wonderful experience engaging and helping people to realise their ambitions.
Moreover, since the commencement of my tenure as the Special Adviser, SME Development and Investment Promotion & Head, Enugu SME Centre in November 2019, we decided to refocus our strategies on the following impact areas: access to credit (Enugu Loan), access to job creation schemes (Enugu Jobs) and access to capacity development programs. Well, the Enugu Youth Employment Scheme (e-YES), is one of the many programs in our result-oriented Enugu Human Capital Development Loan scheme.
The e-YES program is a partnership with Wild Fusion Limited, an IT and technology company, through its Wild Fusion Digital Center to up-skill hundreds in several certified digital marketing capacities.
It is expected to run for 4 weeks and consists of in-class sessions, offline sessions. However, after the training, some applicants will be assisted in getting job while others will be supported through the gig economy where the program will provide access to jobs for these “entrepreneurs”, tracking, and enabling repayment of the human capital development loan (HCDL).
Why focusing on youths and digital economy
The youths constitute almost half of the state’s population and engaging them productively implies more productivity, positive impact on the gross domestic product (GDP), and most importantly, reduction in crime and restiveness in the state.
Also Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, the Executive Governor, Enugu State, has the interest of the youths in mind, hence the initiative is part of his human development projects.
We are focusing on the digital economy because we are a forward-looking government and we have also recognised the place of technology and digitisation, which are obviously the new currencies in the world today. As well, the digital world offers limitless opportunities and space to everyone to work from anywhere and earn a living.
What makes e-YES beyond first phase
The difference is our realistic approach and the commitment of our working Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi to the empowerment of youths across the state. Also, we are not going the whole mile alone. We are partnering with a renowned technology company, but the HCDL program will definitely make the scheme work because it is practical and deliverable.
Ensuring only youths in need are engaged
We run an open system devoid of any form of nepotism and that is why we made the training open to all youths from the state. Registration is free and it is limited to jobseekers and youths who are interested in acquiring digital skills in areas such as: Advertising, Digital Marketing, Internet Promotion, SMS Marketing, Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), Analytics and Content Marketing. Moreover, Wild Fusion is a competent partner and it is helping us to get the right people and the best out of the training.
How beneficiaries of training loan will repay
At the agency, we have taken the radical step of identifying Human Capital as the most important sector for funding. We have prioritised human capital development and employment as key to achieving sustainable economic development in the state.
The Loan-For-Jobs Scheme is for youths, unemployed and underemployed to access training. In conjunction with a private sector anchor, we shall conduct intensive up-skilling training programs across various competencies in all sectors. These newly evolved human capital then get retained by the private sector firms that have partnered with the program. We then recover the loan for their training through monthly deductions over 6-10 months (depending on the cost of the training) from their monthly salaries. This will ensure they take the program seriously and it will give comfort to the employer with respect to the retention rates.