Youth, Women Groups Partner For Sustainable Growth Of SMEs In Akwa Ibom

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By; PATRICK TITUS, Uyo

Youth and women groups in Akwa Ibom State are set to embrace entrepreneurship to ensure sustainable growth in their businesses as well as driving the growth of  Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) as the bedrock of rapid economic development.
They also hope to form formidable teams across many frontiers and to break-even the challenges posed by high interest rates faced by small business operators in the country coupled with irregular power supply.
Through teamwork and partnership, the women and youth groups look set to avail themselves of the numerous credit facilities for them to grow their business, a development which has eluded  them in the past.
This was the vision for the inauguration of the women and youth groups by  the Uyo Chamber of Commerce, Industres, Mines and Agriculture (UYOCCIMA) at a ceremony in Uyo, the state capital and attended by captains of industries and leaders across the country.
According to Iyalode Alaba Lawson, former President of the National Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture (NACCIMA), who in a keynote address at the ceremony emphasised the need for self discipline, integrity and etiquettes as the guiding principles for success in business adding that though women are more into SMEs, “we need to bring them together for us to do things right.’’
Her views were also reechoed by the President of UYOCCIMA,  Obong Nseyen Ebong who noted that bringing together women and groups together was meant to unleash their economic potentials  noting that the population of the two groups far outweighs that of men.
“Since we started the idea of women and youth groups, I have been pleasantly surprised by their commitment and their enthusiasm,’’ adding that trade groups have been created within the association to fast track entrepreneurship and economic development.
Promising that UYOCCIMA would grant entry free loans to those seeking funds to expand their businesses,’’ he however urged the would-be beneficiaries to pay back such credit facilities to ensure that a revolving loan scheme would be achievable for others to benefit.
Ebong, a maritime expert and former Rector of the Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron lauded the women groups for their enterprising spirit as displayed by the various products exhibited during the ceremony.
While the permanent secretary, federal ministry of women affairs, Anthonia Ekpa, who represented the minister, urged women to work towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals particularly in ending poverty expressed delight that giving education to women and youths will help in reducing inequality and ensure rapid economic development.
Ekpa who commended the Association for the initiative promised assistance in terms of partnership in forming women groups or affinity groups  which she said would facilitate support from the federal government.
One of  the highlights of the ceremony was the launching of a magazine called ‘Impact.’

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