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Stronger Delta: Better Days Are Here For Delta Girls As More Entrepreneurs Emerges. By Fred Latimore Oghenesivbe Esq. #eacgovdelta

It's been almost seven years of job and wealth creation galore for Deltans; women, girls, youth and it appears the State Governor, Senator Dr Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa, is not resting on his oars. The more you look, the more you see.

Of a truth, Okowa administration has done marvellously well in taking our youth from the streets. Before the governor took over mantle of leadership of the state, the labour market was highly congested; women, boys and girls were roaming the streets looking for white collar jobs that were nonexistent. Poverty and frustration everywhere.

From May 29, 2015 till date, Delta State Government under governor Okowa through the various skills acquisition programmes; YAGEP, STEP, RYSA, GEST opened new windows of multifaceted business opportunities for our teeming youth and women, wherein thousands of unemployed Deltans joined the business world as entrepreneurs and employers of labour.

Testimonies have been pouring in via social media platforms, justifying government huge investment and the steady progress recorded by Stepreneurs, Yagepreneurs, Rysapreneurs and Gestpreneurs spread across the three senatorial districts and the bests goes on.

The girl child empowerment programme was introduced barely two years ago and the state government through the Girl Child Office focused on skills acquisition and starter packs for girls between ages 18 and 30 years, selected from the 25 local government areas. 

The first batch of GEST graduands are already doing well in the business world. Poverty, hopelessness and frustration no longer part of their daily lives. Governor Okowa through visionary leadership is gradually producing future billionaires and  industrialists that will transform the business and economic fortunes of Delta State and Nigeria, in the 21st century.

Below is what the platinum governor of Delta State, stakeholders and guests said at the graduation of the second batch of GEST graduands recently in Asaba.

Governor Okowa said "Empowerment of the Girl-child was essentially to uplift the economic and social status of traditionally under-privileged girls in society, from ages 18 to 30. 

"Six months ago, the second cycle of trainees under the Girls’ Entrepreneurship and Skills Training Programme (GEST) commenced. It gives me great pleasure today to witness their inauguration into the world of business and entrepreneurship.

"It is instructive that this event is taking place 48 hours after the 2022 International Women’s Day, with the theme `Gender Equality Today for a Sustainable Tomorrow. The focus is on how to “Break the Bias” that women face every day in the global marketplace and thereby accelerate gender parity, equality, inclusion, and diversity.

"This is in tandem with the philosophy of GEST, which is to tackle the issues of gender discrimination, poverty, early/forced marriage, identity crisis, social and parental pressure, poor life skills (communication, decision making, goal setting) and low self-esteem, among young women.

"Today, as we resource and unleash 814 young women into the business world, we can beat our chests that this administration is recording significant milestones in breaking the bias against women in business," he said.

"I urged the GESTpreneurs to break free from the mindset of mediocrity and to excel in the marketplace by making quality products and excellent service delivery. This is your unique selling points.

"Self-esteem is very important. From your carriage, presentation, and appearance, you should always exude confidence, and instill same in your prospective customer.

"The truth about business is that people believe in you first before they believe in your product; in other words, they buy into your personality first before they consider what you want them to buy.

"As for Project GEST team, you have done well especially for your  commitment to the programme. I am pleased with their zeal, passion, and dedication to duty.

"More gratifying is their commitment to best practices. Even though 900 trainees were enlisted into this second cycle, 814 ladies are graduating today; 70 of them had their training extended while sixteen failed.

"The strict adherence to and enforcement of standards by the project managers will foster discipline, discourage nepotism, and sustain credibility of the programme.

"I urge you to maintain the tempo and to strive to break new frontiers in our quest to empower the girl-child."

Wife of the Governor, Dame Edith Okowa said the beneficiaries were successful because of the grace of God upon their lives and urged them to remain resilient and ensure absolute integrity in carrying out their enterprise.

Special Guest of Honour and Chief Executive Officer, House-of-Tara, Mrs Tara Fela-Durotoye, said the beneficiaries were true champions for enduring through tough times the training to emerge victorious in their chosen careers.

She urged the beneficiaries to build their businesses to last by leaving a lasting impression in the minds of their customers.

Earlier In her welcome address, Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Girl-Child Empowerment, Mrs Marilyn Okowa-Daramola, had said that the second cycle known as the "Magnificent 900" scaled through the process maintained focus and crossed the finish line.

She stated that the Project GEST had continued to change the story of so many young girls in Delta by making them well trained entrepreneurs with necessary tools to confront current economic challenges.

"Your Excellency, this is the second cycle of the Project GEST beneficiaries known as the “Magnificent 900.”

"Out of the 900 selected candidates, I present to you 814 passionate, powerful, dedicated, and ambitious women from across our great state, who stuck through the process, maintained their focus, and are here today crossing the finish line.

"While the duration of training for 70 of the beneficiaries is currently being extended to further assess their knowledge in their chosen skill, 16, however, failed and will not be graduating.

"Yes, we can say that the girls “Came, They Saw, They Conquered.” Yes, I am proud of all of you, but most importantly, I am sure that you too are all proud of what you have accomplished.

"I am sure that you can all envision the direct impact that the training that you have all received will have on your families and most importantly, on your respective communities.

"With your graduation today, a lot of families have been empowered and now have well-trained entrepreneurs; and will sleep tonight knowing that their mothers, sisters, wives, and even daughters, have the necessary skills and tools to confront the economic challenges of the future.

"This year, I am proud to announce that this program has become more sustainable because many of our beneficiaries from the pilot phase of the program decided to pay it forward and become trainers themselves," she stated.

Four exceptional awards - Dame Edith Okowa Award for most outstanding trainee was presented to Aghogho Siakpere; Hon. Pat Ajudua Award for Exemplary Leadership Skills went to Eva Ochonogor; while Eke Victory Nwanne was presented with the Hon. Evelyn Oboro Award for the most resilient trainee and the Tara Fela-Durotoye Award for most enterprising trainee went to Odogwu Elizabeth Nkem.

The ceremony also featured presentation of starter-packs to the graduands and it was attended by the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, Chief Ndudi Elumelu, members of the state legislature and other top government functionaries.

The graduands from the second cycle were trained in 10 skills areas namely Photography, Videography, ICT (Website Development & Graphics Design), Baking/ Confectioneries, Leather works, Professional Cleaning Services, Disc Jockey, Fashion Design, Hairdressing and Make-up.

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