More than fifty youths have been trained and equipped with different vocational skills in ten villages in Cross River State, southern Nigeria.
The youths were trained for periods ranging from one to four months in several vocations such as paint production, soap making, food and confectioneries as well as make-up artistry.
Other areas included welding and fabrication, Air Condition and Fridge repairs, tailoring and designing, fish farming, Aluminium fabrication, tiling, cakes and fondants baking.
Lafarge Africa, a cement company located at Mfamosing in Akamkpa Local Government Area sponsored the training and empowerment programme as part of its community relations services.
According to Mrs. Folashade Ambrose-Medebem, the Communications and Public Affairs Director, “Lafarge Africa’s involvement in this programme is in furtherance of our efforts at contributing to skills development, capacity building and overall economic empowerment of our neighbouring communities and their people”.
Ambrose-Medebem, who explained that the training was in partnership with Notragolo Nigeria Limited, Technology Incubation Centre, Calabar and the South-South Entrepreneurial Development Centre of the Central Bank of Nigeria, said the initiative was designed to add value to the host communities.
“Lafarge Africa’s social investment and approach, especially for its host communities, is woven around health and safety, economic empowerment, education, shelter and community support as a good corporate citizen. It is therefore not surprising that we are here for the presentation of empowerment starter pack to beneficiaries of the first run of our skills acquisition, capacity enhancement and Business development programme”, stated Ambrose-Medebem.
Mr. Thierry Terriere, who is the Plant Manager of Lafarge Africa Mfamosing, gave assurance of the company’s commitment to its social responsibility and urged the youths to make good use of the opportunity for their well-being and their communities.
Terriere advised “it is not enough for us to provide the training and the starter-pack as a good spirited organization. What will bring the desired results from this scheme is the commitment of the beneficiaries to make good use of this good gesture for their benefit and the benefit of the society at large. We want to see all of you become models for future beneficiaries of programmes such as this”.
“We will continue to support young men and women in the communities to become financially independent, by providing opportunities for them to acquire skills that will increase their access to gainful self-employment in the absence of paid employment”, stated the Plant Manager.
He further stated that “in reciprocal, we require the continued support, understanding and cooperation of all stakeholders to engender a conducive environment that would enable our business to thrive for the benefit of all”.
In appreciation, a beneficiary, Mrs. Mary Ajom, who graduated from the soap making class pledged to maximize the opportunity, noting “I am very happy about this empowerment. I learnt soap making and now I have the equipment to start my small business. I am grateful to Lafarge for this opportunity”.
The beneficiaries for Soap Making were given fermentation containers, pre-mixing containers, cutting tables, cutting wires, measurement scale, cup, gum thicker and colour each; while those for Paint Production received hand mixer, steel and rubber drums, shovels, weighing scale, steel containers and drums, plastic buckets, Calcium carbon and more.
The others in food and confectionaries as well as Make-Up Artistry got gas cookers, pots, gas cylinders, baking trays and pans, measurement scales, meat pie mould, brushes, scrappers, as well as makeup cases, brushes, foundations, powders, lipstick, blushes and eye shadow palettes each.