By Suoyo Ekubo
The Governor of Bayelsa state, Senator Douye Diri, on Tuesday, presented a grant of N200 million to 840 beneficiaries under the government’s Women and Youth Empowerment Programme for small and medium scale entrepreneurs (SMEs).
The grant was presented to four beneficiaries each from the 105 political wards across the eight local government areas of the state for January and February 2023.
According to a statement by Diri’s spokesman, Daniel Alabrah, the grant is part of the administration’s initiative to boost micro businesses and economic growth in the state with each beneficiary getting N200,000.
Addressing the beneficiaries at the DSP Alamieyeseigha Memorial Banquet Hall in Yenagoa, Senator Diri said the SMEs’ programme is one of series of empowerment schemes designed for Bayelsans desirous of doing business.
The governor said the programme, which has been running for 11 months, has empowered 2,310 women and youths so far, noting that his administration was encouraged by its impact on the beneficiaries.
The governor also directed that an additional one million naira be given to a beneficiary, Nyanayo Inara, who was shot on the leg during the Peoples Democratic Party 2019 governorship campaign in Nembe.
“We are encouraged that this programme has impacted lives. This initiative of the Prosperity Administration is designed for small and medium scale enterprises. Human capacity development is key to our government.
“This scheme is a monthly empowerment to provide seed money for those who want to do business or grow their businesses. We are not just talking the programme but we are working the programme.”
According to the governor, while his administration is putting in place critical infrastructure, it is pertinent to also build the manpower base of the state towards stimulating the local economy.
He stressed that the initiative was also targeted at changing the mindset of Bayelsans towards doing business and becoming self-reliant.
The Bayelsa helmsman said an economic summit would soon be held to chart a road map towards economic prosperity in the state.
“It is how best we can use this seed money that matters and not the amount itself. When you eat your seed money, you have eaten your destiny. If you cannot manage N200,000, you cannot manage one million naira.
“The committee will keep monitoring your progress. If you do well and have testimonies, we will be encouraged to increase the amount. We started with N50 million monthly and when we saw the response, we increased it to N100 million.
“We want to see more rural dwellers in this programme because it has come to stay. In this hall, we have given out starter packs to our youths. We have also sent 404 youths to the CSS Farms in Nasarawa State to see how farming is done. They are back to the state and we have given them seed money and most of their equipment have also arrived.”
In her opening remarks, the Commissioner for Women and Children Affairs, Faith Opene, said a total 2,310 Bayelsans have so far been empowered through the initiative.
According to the commissioner, the programme has run for about a year and would continue on a monthly basis.
In their separate testimonies, Youpele Seimokumo, Ebiye Yalla, Omasirmo James and Blessing Oyinbunugha, representatives of beneficiaries from the local government areas, thanked Governor Diri for the initiative, stating that the empowerment has boosted and transformed their businesses.
Other beneficiaries – Mercy Ekeou, Oduma Iti, Rosa Girra and Nyanayo Inara – also revealed that the grant has led to expansion of their businesses and enabled some of them to pay their wards’ school fees or relocate to the state capital to continue their trade.