Determined to eradicate the scourge of unemployment currently ravaging the country, Fidelity Bank Plc, one of the nation’s highly diversified lender, in strategic partnership with Gazelle Academy and University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN), has empowered 300 Nigerian youths with top-of-the-line entrepreneurial skills. The programme, which is part of the Bank’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives, is targeted at creating a new breed of entrepreneurs amongst Nigeria’s boisterous youth population.
Speaking at the launch of the 5-day youth empowerment programme held at the University of Nigeria Nsukka, Nnamdi Okonkwo, the Bank’s Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, said the programme seeks to empower the university community by creating thriving business owners amongst students. Reiterating the lender’s commitment to continually equip Nigerian youths with requisite skills needed to make them self-reliant, Okonkwo declared that Nigerian youths have been denied opportunities to develop in diverse realms of human endeavours.
“In a national survey jointly sponsored by the National Universities Commission (NUC) and the Education Trust Fund (ETF), about 61 percent of 20 organisations rated graduates poor in skills needed in the work environment such as literacy, entrepreneurship, analytical, problem-solving and decision-making skills”, he explained. Commenting on the scope of the programme, Okonkwo said that the students were trained on tailoring and make-up, explaining that the exercise provided students with knowledge and first-hand experience on the above-mentioned skills.
Okonkwo, who was represented by Leonard Ezugwu, head, Anambra-Enugu-Ebonyi Regional Bank, Fidelity Bank Plc, said, “Nigerian youths are only exposed to Theoretical Education without…practical entrepreneurship, vocational and skill acquisition training.” As a leading financial institution with a proven track record of service excellence and integrity, Okonkwo reiterated the lender’s commitment to create a veritable platform for building an entrepreneurial spirit in the nation’s teeming undergraduates. “We want to create a positive mind-set among them, shifting them ‘from paid-labour mentality to business owners and employers’”, he noted.
In a conscious attempt to ensure that undergraduates utilize the skills and experiences garnered at the youth empowerment workshop, Okonkwo pointed out that Fidelity Bank provided students with sewing machines, pressing irons and make-up kits. Speaking in the same vein, Her Excellency, The Wife of the Executive Governor of Enugu State, Mrs Monica Ugo Ugwuanyi applauded the Bank for investing in youth empowerment. According to her, the youths are agents of the future, urging other private organisations to take a cue from Fidelity.
Top government functionaries, captains of industry, media practitioners and the academia all converged on the UNN Campus to witness the birth of this all-important youth empowerment programme. The Vice-Chancellor represented by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (DVC) of Academics, UNN, Professor James; Founder, Gazelle Academy, Muna Uzo and Chairman/Managing Director, Ben TV, Alistair Soyode were some of the dignitaries at the event.