By Providence Obuh

BEYOND financial empowerment, skill acquisition and vocational training scheme is a means to bridging unemployment gap in the country, said LAPO Microfinance Bank Limited.

The bank entered into agreement with the National Business for Technical Examinations Board (NABTEB) to train clients children on different vocation such as Hairdressing, ICT, Fashion and Design, Clothing and Textile, Photography, among others at the Women Development Centre (WDC) Agege and certify the trainees.

In a chart with FV, Head of Sustainability, LAPO, Ms. Brandy Stevens-Igbe, said that small businesses grow the economy around the world, explaining that during the UK and America’s recession, it was small businesses that brought the economy back together.

Stevens-Igbe said, “The problem I think we have in Nigeria is the culture, people believe that if you don’t go to the university you are a dullard. We need to change that perception and help people become more aware of the advantages of acquiring a skill.

•Women empowerment

“Once you acquire a skill, it is a job for you for life, you can never go hungry, there are graduates who after graduation goes back and acquire a skill, skill acquisition is helping to bridge the gap especially now that there is recession in Nigeria. Skills acquisition is the way forward not just for Lapo but for Lapo clients and Nigeria as a whole,” she said.

However, she said that the trainees are entitled to the bank’s loan package after training.

One of the trainees, Ms. Sara Alawode, said entrepreneurs must be patience enough to acquire any skill, saying “if one is not patient enough, you will not learn anything and I have learn so much because in one year of training I now have sewing skill. My mum entered for the bank’s skill scholarship and so I was fortunate that they picked me.”

Alawode’s Mother, Mrs. Bola Akinyemi, said that the bank is building people and laying future foundation for young people.

Akinyemi, who doubles as Divine Glory group leader, Ijegun, added, “I thank God who made everything possible, My daughter is a beneficiary of Lapo skill acquisition programme and I have a son who have enjoyed scholarship scheme. When she started she complained of distance and I am happy that she can now sew.

“With LAPO’s support my daughter will not relent she will do well and continue with what she has learn because she has no other skill, she will be going for IT that will improve her the more. Am happy for LAPO because they are building people and laying future foundation for our young people.”

However, a Supervisor at WDC, Mrs. Toyin Oni, commended the Lagos State government effort on young persons in the state, soliciting for funding support. “I would advise the state government to try and ensure they support these children with fund after acquiring skill so that they can start up with that. Government should try and provide basic things such as sewing machine and other basic necessities for young start ups. The Challenge of entrepreneurship is lack of money, I am saying because most of them when they finish they find it difficult to establish.

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