By Ijeoma Umeh
Benin City – Women have been tasked on diligence, commitment and productivity as worthwhile enablers for them to add value to self and societal growth.
This was part of the admonition given at the Empowerment Programme organised by the Nigerian Bottling Company(NBC) as part of its corporate social responsibility to the host community, Eyaen Community and environs in Aduwawa in Benin City.
The Programme, tagged: NBC EmpowerHer, witnessed an intensive one week training of 150 beneficiaries in various specialties of skill development, including English and native bead making and designs, textile design, Adire(tye and dye), cake baking and the making of other confectioneries,
Addressing beneficiaries at the occasion held on Wednesday, October 27 at the Coca-Cola Plant, Eyaen in Aduwawa, Mr Chikezie Ekechukwu, Programme Manager, Karis and Eleos Hand of Hope Foundation, implementing partners of the initiative, admonished beneficiaries to be ready for growth evaluation and monitoring after they must have been presented with starter kits to start off their businesses and practice their various skills.
He reminded beneficiaries that they were trained free of charge and that start up kits were not transferable.
“This is the time to put on your thinking cap. Strategic thinking will help you brave the teething challenges of a fledgling business in these times of adverse economic crunch. You should adopt book and record keeping and organize your business in a self auditory space, and do periodical appraisals to see how your business is fairing. It will help you stay afloat and excel.”
In an opening address, Mrs Ifeoma Okoye, NBC Corporate Affairs and Community Partnership Manager, East and Central, stated that the Nigerian Bottling Company is committed to Youth Empowerment, giving communities water, waste management and packaging recovery and that the company has spent over 1million Euros in solving issues of environmental degradation through waste disposal and has empowered over 1,000 women and youths in the Eyaen community alone to mark the 70th anniversary of the company.
She told beneficiaries that the company started small in a basement of a hotel 70 years back, and enjoined beneficiaries to see it as a growth lesson in appreciating the little seed grant that they have received as they prepared to hew out a stewardship to self and community.
Also speaking on The Effect of Financial Inclusion on Women Empowerment, Mr Kingsley Williams from Wema Bank said that the bank is lending women single digit loans to aid their growth in a highly patriarchal society, and that based on each woman’s performance strengths, Wema Bank will remain a strong financial partner.
Earlier in her welcome address, Mrs Iryn Ugokwe, Plant Manager, NBC, stated that it is a good thing for everyone to be meaningfully engaged and doing what they loved doing. She tasked beneficiaries to keep practising, getting better and achieving results.
There were goodwill messages from guests at the event, including Hon. Monday Osaigbovo, Commissioner, Ministry of Local Government and Community Affairs,Edo State. He was represented at the event by Rev. Sunday Osagie Obakpolor, a director in the ministry, Barr. Andrew Adaze Emwanta, Hon
Commissioner, Ministry of Youth and Gender Affairs represented by Petrina Olumese and Uyi Mary Brown, Special Assistant to the Governor on Media and Gender Issues, Ronke Ojeikere, Coordinator, SOTHAWACA, Benin, who acknowledged the synergy between NBC and its implementing partners and praised the resilience of the NBC in staying firm since 70 years in business.
Hon. Monday Osaigbovo described women as a total workforce, coordinators and strategic partners who need every support they can get in the society to enable them thrive.
Barr. Emwanta thanked the NBC as partners in progress with the Edo State Government in ensuring that youths are taken off the streets through skill Empowerment and Development.
Beneficiaries took turns to make their valedictory speeches and expressed appreciations to the NBC and its implementing partners.
High point of the event was the signing of the MOUs by beneficiaries and presentation of starter kits to the 150 beneficiaries.