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SPDC JV funds businesses of young Ogoni entrepreneurs

 The SPDC JV Ogoni LiveWIRE Programme beneficiaries at the graduation ceremony last week.

The SPDC JV Ogoni LiveWIRE Programme beneficiaries at the graduation ceremony last week.

The Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) Joint Venture, in consolidation of its employment generation initiatives in Ogoniland, has trained another 60 youths in entrepreneurship skills, business planning, management and pitching. Fifty of the trainees who succeeded in the final assessment received start-up funds for their business ideas under the LiveWIRE Nigeria programme. The youths were from the four Ogoni local governments of Gokana, Tai, Eleme and Khana, in Rivers State.

At the graduation ceremony held in Port Harcourt last week, six beneficiaries of a similar programme in 2015 received ‘The Young Business Leaders’ award for being outstanding in their businesses.

“We’re pleased that the LiveWIRE programme has continued to make positive impact not only on the lives of the latest beneficiaries but also on youths in the Niger Delta,” said Igo Weli, General Manager External Relations, in a speech at the ceremony. “Like in previous sets, these beneficiaries went through the entrepreneurship training, wrote business plans, pitched their business ideas and in the end, the 50 best performing candidates were selected. With the start-up grants we’re handing out, the stage is set for a new army of business owners and potential employers of labour to emerge in Ogoniland.” His comments echoed a scenario where more than 70 per cent of the 105 youths that benefited from a similar programme in 2015 are already successful business owners and employers of labour.

The Director Enterprise and Promotion in the Rivers State Ministry of Youth Development, Christian Bogba said, ‘I pray that other companies borrow a leaf from what the SPDC Joint Venture have done today by contributing to the improvement of the economic wellbeing of the people and promote peace.”

Chairman of the Supreme Council of Ogoni Traditional Rulers, Godwin Giniwa, and the representative of King of Gokana, Aagba Kpee thanked SPDC and its joint venture partners for providing the young entrepreneurs mentorship to see them through the critical take-off period of their businesses and encouraged youths to seize opportunities of programmes such as LiveWIRE to improve their quality of life.

A total of 6,350 youths from the Niger Delta have been trained since SPDC introduced the LiveWIRE Nigeria programme in 2003, with 50 per cent of them assisted to become business owners and employers of labour. The programme has earned international and local recognitions. The Ogoni-specific programme was driven by the aspiration to address one of the recommendations of the UNEP Report on the restoration of the Ogoni environment, as the LiveWIRE initiative aims to encourage youths in the area to shun illegitimate sources of income such as illegal refining of crude oil.

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