For 36 indigenes of Igbo-etiti and Uzo-uwani councils of Enugu State, June 25 will remain evergreen in their hearts. It was a day that a philanthropist from the area, Engr. Paul Dinwoke, took them through entrepreneurial training to empower them to start their own businesses.
Dinwoke, an entrepreneur and renowned engineer, had brought indigenes from the various communities that make up the council areas and lodged them in a hotel in Enugu for the training sessions on entrepreneurship that lasted for three days.
On why he took up the initiative, Dinwoke said: “ During my entrepreneurship studies I found out that one of the challenges we have with entrepreneurship in Nigeria is lack of proper training and effective mentorship among entrepreneurs and I felt I should close the gap. This gives us an opportunity to close that gap. We have a lot of challenges in Nigeria that without jobs you see graduates coming out of school and all focused on getting white-collar-jobs. So I think it is time to change the orientation of young people coming out of school and for those that are not young and have started businesses to improve their capacities to become business owners and employers of labour. That is what has motivated me to commence this programme which I plan to make an annual programme that would help us get our young people out of the streets and refocus them into owning businesses”
He said: “Our plan is that at the end of the training, participants will bring their business plans and we will chose four out of them. Each of the four trainees will get N500,000 grant to commence their own business. We wouldn’t leave them at that, we will monitor them closely and mentor the successful ones and further invest N5 million after six months so that they can grow their businesses and employ more people. So at the end of the day, we are looking at potential business owners.”
Speaking on the kind of business expected from the trainees, he said they were free to venture into any business of their choice, stressing that what matters to him was to see to their success.
He, however, advised the trainees to “take whatever they are doing seriously”, explaining that the knowledge from the training would “touch all areas in entrepreneurship, business strategy, finance and resource management”
Asked whether there was state government support in the initiative, he said: “The state governor, “Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi represents success and this is also dedicated to his successes as a governor. We are also doing this to appreciate and to partner with him in his strides and in all he has done towards improving the lives of the people of the state. I have had a few times that I have sat with him and I told him about entrepreneurship and I tell you the governor is keen on building business owners in the state. So in that light, this is to appreciate the governor’s tremendous achievements in the state and also to encourage him to continue in that direction.
And to let him know that he has partners in making sure Enugu state is one of the best place for people to stay in Nigeria”.
Speaking further on the successes of the Ugwuanyi administration, he stressed: “We have not had it so good in infrastructural development in Enugu state, until we got this governor and what he has really done marveled everybody. This is despite the fact that we had great challenge in the economy of this country.
“Enugu state is the only state where there is enduring peace. People come to Enugu from all parts of this country. This is because the governor has taken everybody in perfect situation that there’s no need for violence. We sleep with our two eyes closed in Enugu state and no place is as peaceful as Enugu state. This is a state where there is no political crisis in any form from any quarters. I think that is something we should appreciate. You would have observed recently that everybody has realised how successful this governor is and everybody wants him back in 2019”.
Some of the participants expressed appreciation to Dinwoke for the kind gesture. Miss Nnenna Ugwu, a graduate of Biochemistry, said she had been unemployed since her graduation three years ago.
According to her, “With the knowledge I got, I want to get into my own business and I assure you that I will succeed. Nobody has given me this kind of opportunity since I left school, but just watch me and see what I will become in the next few years. I will not write job application any longer”.
Another trainee, Ifeanyi Eze, said he would apply the knowledge in his farming business at Uzo-Uwani. He said he had been in farming business since he left school and would strive to benefit from the grant.