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Using micro mechanism to conquer unemployment in Delta
Alphonsus Agborh X-rays the bottom to top economic mechanism in Delta State and how the poor have been empowered to face a future where oil may not count.
MUSICAL icon, Ducan Mighty, in his lyrical expression, counsels that one should not despise little beginnings.
This captures the theory of a financial wizard and astute businessman, Mr Tony Elumelu, former Chief Executive Officer of United Bank for Africa, when he, at a seminar to commemorate the 2012 Democracy Day in Asaba, aptly described the Delta State microcredit programme as a bottom to top mechanism to create jobs.
According to him, the programme is bottom to top in the sense that it began as an experiment and gradually grew to win series of awards after empowering over 86,573 persons in various endeavours.
Delta State government, on the day’s celebration decided to gather people, those in the financial sector, capital market, agriculture, food security, traditional rulers, the local people and public servants to discuss an issue which it holds close to its chest.
It was time to x-ray the level of the state’s microcredit programme and the hiccups that might have militated against it.
The theme of the seminar held on May 28 was “Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) as drivers for achieving the goal of Delta beyond oil.” Before, the focus used to be SMEs but now, the state has gone lower to micro to raise economic development and with this, Tony Elumelu, as chairman on the occasion, believed that Delta was already planning a new anchor of economic development.
Delta State governor, Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan, insisted at the seminar that the success of his human capital development could not be complete without the microcredit, which in essence was programmed to eradicate poverty.
Looking at the security challenges in the state before he assumed office in 2007, Uduaghan reasoned that until the situation especially the mayhem in the creeks got respite, no meaningful development would be achieved in the state.
So the 3-point agenda of peace and security, human capital and infrastructural development is being pursued with vigour.
However, having acknowledged the contribution of microcredit delivery towards promoting productive self employment, community development and diversification of the economy, especially to mainly agro-based economy, the state government decided to use it robustly to address poverty in rural and urban environment.
That also informed the creation of Ministry of Poverty Alleviation under the headship of a seasoned economic expert, Dr Anthonia Ashiedu, who brought her experience to bear in changing the lives of the downtrodden even up to the creeks. The programme targets unemployment particularly as it affects school leavers, economically disadvantaged women, the physically challenged and HIV patients. The initiative has been instrumental in sowing hopes and putting springs in the footsteps of the poor.
The clients are made to participate in the design, implementation and monitoring of their projects, and also have come to understand that money given to them is not a government, handout, charity or a political settlement but a token to bring them out of darkness to the light where they can now work and earn a living.
One key area where the programme had assisted in promoting peace is at Uvwie Local Government area of the state once known for youth restiveness and volatility.
Through the microcredit delivery to over 3,500 fish farmers at Ekpan Fish Farm Estate many of the youth are now engaged in income generating activities.
Another area where the programme is relevant is assisting clients in proper packaging of flour, crayfish, liquid soap, detergent, palm oil, plantain, etc as well as registration of their products with relevant regulatory agencies.
Similarly, the establishment of the palm wine cottage industry and shoe making village underscores a new horizon to move from bottom to top in economic rebirth.
With the promotion of the scheme through the 26 microfinance institutions, there is no gain saying the fact that the awards that have accrued to the state are very justified.
From inception in December 2011 to April this year, a total of 86,573 persons in 8,021 cluster groups have benefited from the programme.
Of this number, 54,975 are women while 31,508 are men all engaged in different enterprises such as services, trading, cottage industries and agricultural production.
From a little beginning, most of them have moved up to the macro level to export their products.Share