No fewer than 120 youths drawn across eight states in the Niger Delta on Tuesday in Port Harcourt received 400,000 each as grant to invest in new businesses.
Mr Igo Weli, General Manager, External Relations, Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) handed cheques to the beneficiaries at the SPDC/Joint Venture-sponsored 2018 Regional Graduation and Award Ceremony of its LiveWire programme.
He said the beneficiaries were drawn from Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Imo and Rivers.
According to him, the 120 beneficiaries joined about 6,952 youths who had been trained in enterprise development and management since the programme’s inception in 2003.
“Shell LiveWire programme enables young people to start their own businesses and create employment for themselves and others.
“The programme launched in 2003, has produced 7,072 Niger Delta entrepreneurs most of whom are now employers of labour.
“Also, some of the beneficiaries have been given the opportunity to play in SPDC’s supply chain as vendors, partners as well as linked to growth capital from other agencies,” he said.
Weli , represented by Mrs Gloria Udoh, SPDC’s Manager, Social Performance and Investment, said that aside training and funding, the programme also assisted youths with ideas to draw up their business plans.
He added that no fewer than 70 per cent of the beneficiaries since the programme’s launch had become successful business owners across different industries.
“The programme was designed to contribute to economic empowerment and job creation for Niger Delta youths in SPDC host communities.
“The current beneficiaries received entrepreneurship training, wrote business plans and pitched their business ideas before 120 best-performing among applicants were selected.
“The selected beneficiaries will receive N48 million or 400,000 each of business start-up grant. We expect that they will successfully establish or expand their chosen businesses,” he said.
Weli said the success of the livewire programme necessitated SPDC to launch a special livewire programme in Ogbia Local Government Area of Bayelsa which targeted university graduates, secondary school leavers and market women.
Other livewire programmes are for Ogoni youths as well as Livewire Women for Otumara community in Excravos, Delta.
The Most Outstanding Beneficiary, Mrs Emy Harry, said the programme equipped her with requisite knowledge and skills to handle her tools with which she works.
Harry said the skills would enable her to open up a plastic recycling company in the Niger Delta.