Kenechukwu Obiajuru, Yenagoa 

Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) says it has empowered over 6,659 entrepreneurs from its gas fields in Bayelsa and Delta from 2003 till date.

The General Manager, External Relations at SPDC, Mr Igo Weli disclosed this on Wednesday at the graduation and award giving ceremony for beneficiaries of the oil firm’s enterprise development programme in Yenagoa.

 Weli, who represented by the Manager, External Relations, SPDC, Mr Adebanjo Adekoya noted that the company embarked on the scheme to provide alternative income and to divert the attention of the youths from restiveness.

 According to him, SPDC has injected a total of N2.2 bn into the Southern Swamp Associated Gas Solution area for community development as top-up funds for the Community Cluster Development Boards in Bayelsa and Delta.

 The 49 youths who completed the enterprise development programme received start-up grants of N19.60 million.

 The beneficiaries were also assisted to register their businesses and received certificates of registration with the Corporate Affairs Commission.

 Speaking earlier, the facilitator, Mrs Belema Obigwe noted that the beneficiaries received intensive training on business management and assigned to established entrepreneurs for mentorship.

Obigwe of the Centre for Information and Development, a Non-Government Organisation said that 130 youths nominated for the scheme by their communities were shortlisted in April 2018.

He said that out of the number, 79 successfully completed the training while 49  of them passed the assessment tests conducted at the end of the scheme.

A beneficiary, Robinson Erebi who spoke on behalf of other recipients of the grant noted the content of the training was practical and beneficial.

“We are grateful for this opportunity, I have tried and failed in business twice but in the course of this training, I discovered why I failed and now I am ready to get it done the right way.

“We were given the training to support our business ideas and Shell is also supporting us with start-up capital, so we are now out of the labour market and they have encouraged us to expand to create more jobs,” Erebi said.

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