The Small And Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) said it has trained 80 agro-processors under its Women In Self Employment Programme (WISE-P) in Enugu State.
It said that the women, chosen from the rural communities, were drawn from eight agricultural and agro-processing co-operative societies in the state.
In an address at the closing ceremony of the four-day training on Friday, the Director-General of SMEDAN, Mr Olawale Fasanya, said that Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) “remain a very important sub-sector in the Nigerian economy”.
According to Fasanya, they collectively account for a majority of the enterprises in Nigeria and the highest number of jobs created in the economy.
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“The most recent National MSMEs Survey of 2020 revealed that there are 39.6 million MSMEs, employing 62.5 million persons (80.2 per cent of the labour force) and contributing 46.31 per cent and 6.21 per cent to nominal GDP and exports, respectively.
“The power of self-employment is not only inherent in providing a job for oneself but also in providing job opportunities and employing others to work and earn a living.
“It is said that when you train a woman you train a nation, and when you further empower a woman you have liberated the nation.
“Women no doubt are the bedrock of many families and society.
“Priority attention to this gender group, therefore, cannot be relegated in any of the field of endeavours they have chosen to be identified with,” Fasanya said.
He further said that available evidence showed that a lot of women were into farming and many more were willing to take up farming or agri-business as a means of livelihood and self-employment.
“However, women were limited in progress because they do not have the requisite skills and finance required to carry on successfully and even access markets.
“Having identified the above gaps, and in-order to spur more interest of women into farming and agri-business, and to assist those in active farming, SMEDAN initiated WISE-P programme with particular focus on women who are into farming and agri-business (agro value chain) production.
“The WISE-P will be a platform of providing incentives that would ease some of the gaps and challenges identified above,” he said.
The SMEDAN boss said that the programme was targeting 13 states, making a total of 1040 participants.
He said that the first phase of the programme was held on Dec. 12, 2022 in Osun, Ebonyi, Katsina, Bauchi, Ekiti and Kwara.
“The second phase commenced simultaneously in Jigawa, Delta, Taraba, Kogi, Bayelsa and Enugu,” he said.
Fasanya further said that WISE-P is designed basically to promote self-reliance among women and to empower them in order to achieve improved productivity and sustainability in agricultural businesses.
“These agricultural businesses include crop farming and agro-processing along the value chains and to boost production of raw materials for industrial use and development,” he said.
He said that the agency would provide multi-purpose industrial drier to the eight cooperative societies that had participated in the training.
A participant, Mrs Nnenna Ejim, said that the training had exposed her more on the need for proper and careful book-keeping aimed at the growth of businesses.
“I sincerely thank the Federal Government for providing this opportunity,” Ejim, who is the Coordinator of Chidiebube Nenwe Women Multi-Purpose Cooperative Society, “he said.
Also, Mrs Cordelia Okwu from Golden Step Multi-purpose Cooperative said that the training exposed her to the benefits derivable from cassava processing.
“I thank SMEDAN for such a knowledge-impacting training and I have learnt other uses and profits derivable from cassava processing.
He added that he also gained knowledge on the need for networking and expanding the market nationally and internationally.