Gov. Simon Lalong of Plateau on Wednesday in Jos empowered 1,700 youths with N17 million to start small businesses.
Lalong, who gave the ‘seed money’ at the inauguration of the third phase of Simon Lalong Empowerment Scheme (SLEMS) said the gesture was to reduce poverty and unemployment.
The governor said the initiative was part of his promise on assumption of office in 2015 to empower youths and women.
“You will recall that on my assumption of office about three and half years ago, I promised to ensure that women and youth empowerment and employment would be given topmost priority.
“It is meant to reduce and subsequently banish poverty in the state in line with the cardinal policy thrusts of my administration.
“I am happy to say that I have not let down the people in this regard,” he said.
He said he established the Plateau State Micro Finance, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency (PLASMEDA) to further achieve the objectives.
Lalong said the agency was saddled with the responsibility of enhancing the entrepreneurial capacity of existing Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).
He also said it was meant to expose the women and youths to the rudiments of business start-ups through vocational and skill acquisition programmes.
“This giant initiative has given birth to the Youth and Women Empowerment Programme, among others, following which its slogan, the “Simon Lalong Empowerment Scheme” (SLEMS) was launched on the 9th of March, 2017, in order to attain the afore-mentioned goals and objectives.
“The SLEMS initiative has indeed continued to impact positively on the lives of more and more youths and women.
“For instance, over 2,000 market women and traders were engaged in the Government Enterprise Empowerment Programme (GEEP).”
He admonished the youths to embrace skill acquisition programmes wherever they had such opportunities.
According to him, skills acquisition is a potent weapon to fight the scourge of poverty and unemployment.
He urged them to make judicious use of the funds saying that great businessmen like the Dangotes of this this world started small.
Mr. Hagai Gutap, Director General, PLASMEDA appreciated Lalong for the making the event possible through the provision of funds to the agency.
Gutap said that 100 youths were picked from each of the 17 local government areas for the programme.
Gutap listed the skills to include: fashion designing, leather work, hair dressing, computer, weaving, and catering services.
Mr Letep Dabang, Chairman, All Progressives Congress (APC) in Plateau advised the youths to use the funds for businesses.
Ankala Ella, a youth mobiliser on behalf of the beneficiaries thanked Lalong and APC-led government for the gesture.
Ella called on youths and indeed Plateau people to reelect Lalong to continue with the good work.
Source: Sudiata Post