Emir of Birnin Gwari, Kaduna state, Bawan Allah Zubair Jibril Mai Gwari II, has called on the federal government to renegotiate the World Bank-assisted Growth and Empowerment (GEM) project, with a view to extending it to payment of grants to the 2019 trainees.
This, he said, was imperative, in order for the project to meet its objectives.
The objective of the $160 million GEM project being implemented by the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment and supported by the World Bank, is to increase firm growth and employment in participating firms in Nigeria.
The project which focuses on manufacturing and service sectors, Information Communication Technology, entertainment, tourism and hospitality, light manufacturing (and agro-processing industries) and construction became effective in July 2013 and billed to end March 29.
Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise (MSME) founders trained in 2019 have been told the grant/funding component of the project has been discontinued. No reason was given for the decision.
Speaking in an interview in Abuja, the royal father, while commending the initiative, however, said its impact would be better felt with funding to enable business owners train and also empower others.
“If some people have been trained and empowered, I am appealing to the government that since the project is coming to an end at the end of this month, the way government was able to do it when the programme was supposed to end sometime last year but it was extended, I am appealing to the federal government through the minister of finance and minister of industry, trade and investment and any other good person in government to please extend the life of this programme so that these young people who have been trained will be able to reach their goal.
“After the training, they should also be empowered with the promised finance so that they can go ahead,” he said.
“From what I’ve been told, there are thousands of young people who have received the training and what they need now is the empowerment. Those who did it at the beginning of the programme have got the training and empowerment.”
Mai Gwari said he was concerned because he had seen the project as one that would help his people and a lot of young people in the South, in the East, the centre and everywhere, particularly in view of prevailing insecurity and youth restiveness.