The Bayelsa State Government says it is set to launch the first phase of its Women Empowerment Programme to various cooperative groups next week.
Governor Seriake Dickson announced this when the Minister of Trade, Industry and Investment, Dr. Olusegun Aganga paid him a courtesy visit in his office in Government House, Yenagoa.
According to the Governor, about N500 Million will be disbursed to the women cooperative groups during his ‘thank you’ tour to the eight local government areas of the State, which is expected to kick off next week.
Governor Dickson, who expressed delight at the visit of the Minister, explained that Government decided to test-run the programme with women in view of the critical role they play in their families and society in general.
While commending the Minister for his efforts in promoting the growth of business and investment in the country, the Governor noted that his administration had since keyed into the Federal Government development programmes for small and medium enterprises.
He restated the State Government’s commitment to diversifying its economy from oil and gas with a view to generating employment and creating wealth through industrialization.
His words, “This was where oil and gas started but we don’t have the big oil companies located here. In this State, it is only the Government that employs people, and that has to change. So, I am actively promoting the policy of expanding the economy of this State beyond oil and gas. We are doing a lot in agriculture and tourism. That is why we have invested so much in security and the infrastructure that can bring about industrialization. And that is why we are talking to people and building partnerships within Nigeria and even outside because we want people to come in here to invest and create jobs and generate wealth.
Earlier, the Minister of Trade, Industry and Investment, Dr. Olusegun Aganga said he was in Bayelsa to inaugurate the State council on Small and Medium Enterprises as well as launch the National Enterprise Development Programme (NEDEP).
Describing the small and medium enterprises sub-sector as the greatest employer of labour in the country, Dr. Aganga quoted a survey conducted by SMEDAN as revealing that, “about 17.25 million micro, small and medium enterprises exist in this country employing closed to 32 million people.”
The Minister who announced the sitting of the headquarters of the South – South Office of SMEDAN in Bayelsa, added that NEDEP which is aimed at addressing the needs of SMES in the country has so far been launched in six States.
To make the agency more result-oriented, Dr. Aganga explained that, SMEDAN has not only been restructured but now has its presence in all the States of the federation following the directives of President Goodluck Jonathan.
“In the past we coordinated it from the National Council in Abuja. It doesn’t work that way. You need to have State councils because they are the first point of contact dealing with local issues and problems. So, we changed that structure to make sure that we now have SME Councils at the State level that will be made of Government, the SMEs themselves and the private sector.
“In terms of funding, we have restructured the Bank of Industry (BOI) to ensure that we have bottom of the pyramid programme, which means that we form them into cooperatives, register them with Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) at no cost to them without any legal requirements because we want to bring them from the informal to formal sector.”
Chief Press Secretary to the Governor of Bayelsa State