By George Odok
Calabar, Dec. 3, 2020 No fewer than 100 youth from the South South region of Nigeria have participated in a talent-hunt programme on fashion, arts and craft, organized by the Small- and Medium-Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN).
The youth, who participated in the four-day programme in Calabar, were trained for two days on business and product marketing and the other two days on pitching.
Speaking at the closing ceremony on Thursday, the Director General of SMEDAN, Dr Dikko Radda, said that the programme was designed towards discovering hidden talents and showcasing innovative talents in fashion, arts and craft.
Radda, who was represented by Dr Friday Okpara, Head of Partnership and Coordination Department at SMEDAN, said the programme was geared towards employment generation through wealth creation and self reliance, thereby reducing poverty.
He explained that the programme was a complete hand-holding programme from identification, selection, to start up with enterprise support opportunity and facilitating necessary linkages and visibility.
“This programme is in partnership with the Cross River Government through the liaison office Abuja, with over 100 innovative talents/ideas in fashion, arts and craft.
It will be identified and supported with financial assistance and technical support through entrepreneurial training.
“The selected participants will then pitch their ideas to the panel of judges for evaluation and subsequent selection of the best 20 in both fashion, arts and craft.
“The best 10 ideas in each category will be empowered through further capacity development, linkages and visibility via e-marketing.
“The first, second and third positions from the top 10 in each category will be further empowered financially and technically,” he said.
He expressed the hope that the entrepreneurs selected will demonstrate elementary and commercial viability of their innovative products so as to merit further market access, hand-holding business development service that will be deployed thereafter.
Mr Maxwell Etta, Special Assistant to Governor Ben Ayade on Abuja Liaison office, said that the Cross River Government was committed to the trading of youth in meaningful ventures.
The Rivers State Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, Mrs Tonye Oniyide, who was represented by a Director in the Ministry, Mr Freddy Ndigbarra, commended SMEDAN for bringing the youth together to sharpen their skills and talents.
One of the participants, Mr John Edom, a sculptor, said the programme was very creative and eye-opening.