Following a series of workshops conducted in the three Nigerian states most affected by the Boko Haram crisis, over 150 youths, women and men have been trained in various entrepreneurship skills, competences and behaviours that will help them start or run their small businesses successfully. Mostly drawn from communities ravaged by the nine-year-long crisis, the trainees either had their businesses destroyed by Boko Haram or have found themselves residing in new locations with no means of sustaining themselves and their families.
“After this training, my life as a business woman will never be the same again. I will not run my business the way I did it before UNDP trained me on how to become a successful entrepreneur,” stated Nahyani at the end of the six-day Entrepreneurship Training Workshop in Yola, Adamawa State. Similar workshops have been conducted in Maiduguri, Borno State and Damaturu, Yobe State. Others are planned for other parts of the country.
UNDP, with support from the Government of Norway, has provided vocational skills training in metal fabrication, tailoring, catering and decoration, mobile phone and computer repair, mechatronics and spray painting, among others to victims of the insurgents as part of efforts aimed at providing catalytic ingredients for communities to thrive again and lay a foundation for long term development to take place in a region. The beneficiaries have also been supported with start-up equipment so that they could secure alternative means of livelihoods beyond humanitarian hand-outs.
North East Nigeria has witnessed widespread destruction of both infrastructure and livelihoods by the militant group Boko Haram. Over 1.7 million people remain displaced across the region and hundreds have fled into neighbouring Cameroun. Not only have skilled labour become rare in communities because of mass displacement, victims have either lost their only sources of livelihood or have their breadwinners killed by the insurgent group. Those that remain have remained dependent on humanitarian aid.
“Entrepreneurship skills are needed to ensure that those with vocational skills only who either own businesses or wish to start anew are able to run their enterprises successfully,” stated Samuel Bwalya, UNDP’s Country Director. Samuel further added that UNDP was investing in these initiatives with the hope that once the beneficiaries apply the knowledge they are acquiring from these trainings, they will be able to establish new businesses or expand existing ones and employ others within their communities. This will consolidate UNDP’s ongoing efforts in meeting urgent early recovery needs in communities affected by the Boko Haram crisis.
UNDP has been investing in early recovery interventions in the region with the aim of preparing communities for the day after the crisis. Prolonged development deficit in the region exposed millions to different kinds of vulnerabilities, a reality also attributable to the root causes of the crisis.
Speaking at the graduation ceremony in Yola, Haruna Hamman Furo, permanent secretary of the Adamawa State Emergency Management Agency (ADSEMA), congratulated the graduates and urged them to apply their newly acquired knowledge in their daily business lives. Haruna commended UNDP for the initiative stating that the intervention will go a long in changing lives of people in the State. “Thank you, UNDP, for the support and for investing in our people and our communities,” he added.
UNDP is in the process of developing a comprehensive programme aimed at promoting entrepreneurship in Nigeria. The programme will be anchored on three pillars; employability through market driven skills acquisition, innovation and entrepreneurship including financing for small businesses. Once launched, this programme will support the development of entrepreneurship and promote innovation in the country as part of the solution to addressing unemployment, especially among the youths.
— Lucky Musonda, UNDP Nigeria