By Prisca Sam-Duru
As many Nigerians slip deeper into poverty, the pressing and urgent need to provide a viable programme that has education of the future generation integrated into it has prompted the launch of a poverty alleviation and empowerment initiative known as The Empowerment Network, TEN.
TEN, an initiative of LIFTED which is an arm of The Isaiah Wealth Initiative, TIWI, designed to help in combating poverty in Nigeria was launched over the weekend in Lagos.
As a poverty alleviation and empowerment initiative, TEN is structured to lift 40 million Nigerians out of poverty and as well return 16 million children to school over the next 10 years.
The organisation is pained that despite being “Africa’s wealthiest country and a key regional player in West Africa with abundance of natural resources as well as Africa’s biggest oil exporter, which has the largest natural gas reserves on the continent, the country is home to nearly 87 million people living in extreme poverty, with over 100 million persons living below a dollar a day.”
The lack of job opportunities according to the Founder of the initiative, Dr Isaiah Wealth, is at the core of the high poverty levels.
He added that “Unemployment and underemployment are on the increase, affecting poor households and increasing the share of the population that is vulnerable to poverty.
“Also, poverty in Nigeria disproportionately affects children as majority of children in Nigeria live in poverty.
“According to a 2010 Harmonized Nigeria Living Standard Survey (HNLSS), 70.3% of Nigerian children lived in poverty, while 23.2% lived in extreme poverty.
“Despite a national mandate for compulsory education, a survey conducted by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) indicates that the population of out of school children in Nigeria has risen from 10.5 million to 13.2 million, the highest in sub-Saharan Africa.”
Dr. Wealth also noted that poor funding, lack of teachers are among other reasons so many children do not attend school in Nigeria, stressing that it’s impossible to talk about sustained poverty alleviation without education.
With the assistance of volunteers who provide properly guided skill sharpening training to its beneficiaries, and thereafter provide the first phase of financial empowerment, TEN’s beneficiaries are monitored closely to ensure that they utilize the grant as intended, and also make compulsory savings before qualifying for the next round of empowerment.
With the aim of reaching the entire unemployed labour force in every nook and cranny of the country, TEN is structured to perpetuate through local Empowerment Centres (ECs) that would be established in all 774 local governments in Nigeria, with a minimum of one Empowerment Centre (EC) in each local government.