As part of its corporate social responsibility role within the communities it operates in, Ikeja Electric recently organised a two-weeks long youth empowerment programme to train 40 young people on culinary entrepreneurship.
The programme was held at the Community Vocational Centre in Oshodi, Lagos, and participants were taught how to make varieties of plantain chips, chin-chin and ofada stew. They also received business management trainings and, at the end, were each given a start-up toolkit with which they could effectively start up a small business with the skills acquired.
At the training’s closing ceremony held recently in Lagos, Head of Corporate Communications, Ikeja Electric, Mr. Felix Ofulue, said the training was designed to empower young people and reduce the level of unemployment across the country.
â€œAt Ikeja Electric, we are deeply passionate about providing opportunities for Nigerian youths to hone their entrepreneurial skills through various platforms, because we believe that there are millions of youths out there who need the right opportunities and support to develop,â€ Ofulue said. â€œThat is why we will continually strive to create the avenues for youth empowerment.â€
Representative of the Lagos State Government at the event, Mrs. Joyce Onafowokan, thanked Ikeja Electric for caring enough to empower people in the communities in which they operate. â€œBeyond the moral bearing of social responsibility of this project, it is the genuine thought of providing low-entry skills to youths in our communities that matter,â€ she said. â€œThis reveals the quality of thought behind the initiative. And I do hope that you beneficiaries will immediately set sail and become productive citizens of Lagos State â€“ part of which is the responsibility to set up your business and pay taxes.â€
She further charged the beneficiaries to use the knowledge they had received from the training to empower themselves economically.
â€œKnowledge is power,â€ she said, â€œbut knowledge by itself cannot be power, because it is what you do with it that makes it powerful. So it is my hope that this knowledge you have acquired here will be turned into power. You have been empowered. If you do nothing with this new information, you will remain economically powerless.
â€œDo not despise the days of little beginnings. The sky should be your limit. What you need to do is to bring somebody else along with you. That’s how to spread the knowledge and power. Donâ€™t ever think that whatever you have is too small. This century is about entrepreneurs. So you need to position yourself properly. Remain consistent in your enterprise and be very disciplined in your finances. You will experience growth and satisfaction beyond your dreams.â€
One of the students, Gloria Olumese, told THISDAY that although catering was not something she had always wanted to do, she found herself working with event planners and event caterers. â€œSo I had been able to develop some interest.â€
On the training, she described it as â€œwonderful. We were able to learn three different things in three days. We were given assignments to take home and they gave us all the necessary materials.
â€œNow I want to start selling the plantain chips and chinchin in my school, Yaba College of Technology where I am currently studying Science Laboratory Technology. I am very grateful to Ikeja Electric for this opportunity.â€
Another participant, Abigail Arobonosen, who was told she would be attending the training at a church programme, was already into food catering before the training. â€œI like eating and I love cooking so I was excited when I heard about the training,â€ she said. â€œAnd what made it more irresistible was when they offered to give us breakfast, lunch and transportation fees.â€
At the end of the training, she told THISDAY, â€œit surpassed my expectations. I was really amazed. I am starting a business next week. I have a business name in my head already. I want to study Accounting and when I get into the university, I can use this business to support myself financially.â€