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Onitsha economic empowerment: lifting the poor in Onitsha out of poverty, set for takeoff

Arrangements have been finalised for takeoff of an Onitsha Economic Empowerment Programme.

The programme, which was recently announced by Igwe Nnaemeka Achebe, the Obi of Onitsha, is part of a strategy for medium to long term sustainable interventions in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath.

A statement released from Ime Obi, Onitsha noted that the Implementation would be under the auspices of the Onitsha Advancement Foundation (OnAF), an incorporated entity promoted by the Onitsha Traditional Council.

“The OnAF has been restructured with an expanded Board of Directors, made up of part-time members, all highly experienced, hardworking and dedicated Onitsha indigenes.’’

The Advisory Board comprised members of the Onitsha Traditional Council and constituent groups; and Workgroups of Onitsha professionals focused on implementing specific aspects of the Economic Empowerment Programme.

It notes that Igwe Achebe acknowledges the efforts made in conceptualising the programme stating: “this exercise has called for substantial hard work as we progress from the Onitsha Community COVID-19 Response Programme (OCCRT), which focuses on education and enlightenment.

The statement notes, the exercise includes the distribution of palliatives, face masks and sanitisers, to the Economic Empowerment Study Panel (EESP).

It also addresses the medium to long term economic and social consequences of COVID-19 on the community, and now the Onitsha foundation’s interventions, which we are embarking upon to implement the outcomes of the EESP.

The statement adds: “there is more hard work ahead, and I plead that we do not relent since we can now clearly see the great possibilities that lie ahead as we work toward lifting the poor in Onitsha out of poverty.

“Three initiatives spanning business learning, technological skills acquisition, and financial intermediation will serve as the arrowhead of the Economic Empowerment Programme.

“These are the Onitsha Leadership and Entrepreneurship Centre (OLEC); (Onicha) Ado Business Incubation Centre (ABIC), and a Microfinance Institution/Microfinance Bank (MFI/MFB).

According to the statement, OLEC will focus on creating passion for learning about businesses, and how to create and grow small businesses.

“The OLEC workgroup is led by Prof Alex Ike Ikeme, teacher, coach, facilitator and mentor with not less than three decades of experience in entrepreneurship development studies and practice.

“ABIC will serve as a catalyst tool to help new technology start-ups to grow and develop, including helping to accelerate and make optimum use of incubator resources.’’

The statement added that Mr Charles Uchenna Emembolu, an information technology architecture expert would lead for the ABIC workgroup.

“The MFI/MFB will offer financial resources to low/medium income populations, in addition to targeting financial services at self-employed, micro and small businesses generally overlooked in the society.’’

The statement also said that Mr Nnamdi Anammah, a financial expert with a track record covering commercial banking, corporate finance and stock broking would lead the MFI/MFB workgroup.

“It is also planned to establish a health and well-being workgroup that will determine the modalities for a community’s basic healthcare programme.’’

It then added that a values reorientation campaign would be set up as a critical enabler for the Economic Empowerment Programme.

“The campaign is designed to drive a new work/study/life ethic for Onitsha indigenes, which is in tune with the times and able to power a rebirth of thrift, industry, achievement and pride on a global scale.

“The campaign will also prepare a significant number of persons from the community with vital foundational principles to key into and avail themselves of other elements of the Economic Empowerment Programme.

“This initiative will be led by Mr Nn’emeka Maduegbuna, a Communications Consultant, who brings three decades plus of experience in strategic communications planning, corporate positioning and reputation management.’’

According to the statement it has been conceptualised by a panel of Onitsha experts, who have been charged by Igwe Achebe, to map out strategies to support the struggling and budding entrepreneurs in our domain in weathering the COVID-19 storm.

The Economic Empowerment Programme builds on a broad-based 2017 project with the theme: “Take Onicha Ado N’Idu to the Next Level’’, which explores developmental and repositioning needs of the ancient kingdom. (MOI)

By Tony Nezianya

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