The Bayelsa State Government has said that its women and youths empowerment programme is aimed at supporting no fewer than 5,000 owners of small and medium scale businesses across the eight local government areas of the state.
According to the Commissioner for Information, Orientation and Strategy, Mr Ayibaina Duba, the empowerment scheme of N200,000 each covers 210 men and women in the 105 wards of the state.
Duba, who spoke in Yenagoa during the disbursement and biometric capture of beneficiaries from the Ogbia Local Government Area, said the Governor Douye Diri administration hopes to grow the markets of over 5,000 SMEs operators at the end of its first tenure.
He said, “By our estimation, by the time we finish this programme for this first term, we are targeting over 5,000 beneficiaries and these people must be people who are involved in business or trade.
“You don’t expect 100 per cent success rate in any business or such enterprise but we believe that if we can have 5,000-plus beneficiaries, definitely there will be a larger chunk of people that will come back to praise God that they are success stories.”
Duba also explained that the essence of the biometric capture was to preventing beneficiaries who, after receiving their money, would still seek to be part of other batches of the scheme, saying that “we want it to go as wide as possible”.
He said the Diri’s government initiated the programme to boost the state’s economy through SMEs, stressing that there is no political consideration in the selection of beneficiaries as the only criterion that entitles people to the fund is to owning a business.
He said, “The novelty of this particular scheme is that it is targeted at people who are involved in small scale businesses, it’s not just for anybody. It is for people who have something they are doing, either fashion designing, welding, carpentry, mechanic, whatever you are doing as business.
“Government is trying to make sure that they are assisted one way or the other by giving them some sort of incentive, physical cash, for them to be able to add to their businesses so that their businesses will grow.”
The Commissioner while advising the beneficiaries to use the money prudently, further said that they would be properly monitored by a team set up by the government to ensure that the purpose of the empowerment was achieved.
He reiterated that the administration from its inception had remained a responsible and responsive government that was identifying the problems of the people and also solving them within available scarce resources.