Asuquo Ekpenyong (right) and Dr Ayade (middle) presenting a dummy cheque to one of the beneficiaries

By Emma Una

The Cross River Women Emancipation Initiative ( CROWEI), the pet project of Dr. Lynda Ayade, wife of Cross River State governor in collaboration with Asuquo Ekpenyong Foundation (AEF) owned by the state Commissioner for Finance on Monday handed one thousand women active in micro & small businesses a grant of N50,000 each.

During the 2022 launch of the scheme in the commercial city of Ikom, the Wife of Cross River State Governor, Her Excellency, Dr Linda Ayade, who was full of enthusiasm over the training and support for women in business to boost their productivity, commended the Asuquo Ekpenyong Foundation for partnering with CROWEI to empower women across the 196 wards of Cross River State.

She disclosed that CROWEI will continue to stand firm with women in all their endeavors while calling for more participation of women in leadership/business positions that would grow the local economy

The Founder of the Foundation, Mr Asuquo Ekpenyong disclosed at the event that he was motivated to inaugurate the project designed to support 1,000 micro & small business women across the state by the challenges businesses were going through.

“A wise man taught me that ‘we don’t give because we have enough, we give because we care enough. We must find ways to alleviate the suffering of our people. I am convinced that one of the ways to do this is through supporting our women. As primary caregivers in the home, uplifting women will uplift entire families because they extend those resources across the members of the home.

“From my experience over the years, people do not want to be given fish, rather they want to be taught how to fish. They want to be given the tools to improve their lives and the lives of their families. Therefore, it is highly imperative that businesses become more sustainable as well as scalable in order to drive growth in the local economy,” he said.

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He said at the height of the lockdown in 2020, CROWEI was instrumental in alleviating the hardships women faced across across the state which is the prime reason for the partnering with it.

“During the lockdown, Asuquo Ekpenyong Foundation also supported the state government with a donation of N25 million in cash and medical supplies to assist in its welfare interventions ; today, we have gone a step further.”

He stated that the Asuquo Ekpenyong Foundation has trained 1,000 women who are currently engaged in micro & small business on financial management to enable them access loans and grow their businesses.

“We carefully selected these women who are resident and doing business across the 196 administrative wards of Cross River to ensure that we develop a model case,” he said

He concluded by saying “In all, I am very excited to begin 2022 on this note. Our disbursement partner is Ekondo Microfinance Bank, and it occurred to me that Ekondo is the Efik word for universe. Women make up more than half of our universe. If they don’t prosper, we can’t thrive.”

One of the beneficiaries, Mrs Nkoyo Okon from Akparabong Ward but married;in Calabar, said the grant would help her to expand and meet up with the demand of the season, especially her yam trading business.

Another young lady Ms Favour Ushie, from Bekwarra, expressed gratitude to CROWEI and the Foundation for the financial assistance at this time of the year. According to her, the Coronavirus has been a big setback to businesses, saying the financial aid was what she needed to re-launch her business.

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