YouLead Holds 8th Project Steering Committee (PSC) Meeting

YouLead Holds 8th Project Steering Committee (PSC) Meeting

By Chris Stanley • December 5, 2017

Senior management of the YouLead project were joined by members of Global Affairs Canada (GAC), representatives of the Government of Cross River State and the private sector to reflect on the last six months of YouLead activities.

The Country Director, Cuso International Nigeria, Ebrima Sonko, welcomed the participants and reminded them of the important task ahead. “It is an appropriate time to reflect on the ways to improve and sustain the good work that we are doing to support the young women and men of Cross River State to become successful entrepreneurs in the natural resource sector,” he said.

Along with the noted achievements, the PSC also acknowledged that challenges to the project persist. The Team Leader, YouLead project, Jerry Nwigwe identified key areas for renewed focus, which included gender responsiveness, project governance, partnership development, access to finance for established businesses, and technical training.

The 8th PSC meeting concluded with a renewed commitment to boost coordination and collaboration towards the achievement of the YouLead project’s overall objective to enhance sustainable economic growth and prosperity for women, men and children.

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Agric Expo at Calabar

YouLead Celebrates Global Entrepreneurship Week

By Chris Stanley • November 16, 2017

YouLead, in collaboration with the South–South Entrepreneurship Development Center (SSEDC), celebrated Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) by showcasing the contributions and achievements of young entrepreneurs at the Agric Expo and Exhibition.

In his welcoming remarks, Cuso International in Nigeria Country Representative, Ebrima Sonko called on those present to support the important work of young entrepreneurs. “Today, I hope you are inspired by what you see; I hope you are inspired to engage in entrepreneurial activity, and to collaborate, mentor and invest in young entrepreneurs”, Sonko said.

The event also provided a platform for discussion through presentations on key issues related to the natural resource sectors of Cross River State. Representing SSEDC at the event, Niekan Nnamani presented on the theme Women Inclusion Prosperity for All. Nnamani reminded the participants of the common saying, ‘Give a man a seed and you have fed the Man; but give a Woman a seed and you have surely fed the entire family’. “I call this the Anatomy of a woman entrepreneur,” she said.

YouLead beneficiaries submitted their products to a competition of excellence across six value chains (Cassava, Fisheries, Mushrooms, Poultry, Plantain, and Oil Palm). Winner of Overall Excellence in Fishery, Rachel Duke of Akpabuyo, was grateful for the opportunity to showcase her achievements. Duke encouraged others to do the same, “Be courageous, learn, and work hard to boost our environmental economy, and take advantage of every opportunity to showcase your talent.”

Agric Expo at Calabar

The Agric Expo and Exhibition was also held in Ogoja and Ikom Local Government Areas on November 14th and 15th respectively, to ensure that YouLead beneficiaries were able to celebrate Global Entrepreneurship Week across Cross River State.

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56 Youth Complete YouLead Technical Training in Poultry

56 Youth Complete YouLead Technical Training in Poultry

By Chris Stanley • October 25, 2017

YouLead explores innovative ways of empowering unemployed young women and men to improve their livelihoods; amongst the most promising approaches adopted by the project are entrepreneurship development and technical trainings in specific natural resource sector value chains.

It was against this backdrop that YouLead project in collaboration with Taissen Shalom Farms, Calabar, Nigeria organized a two–month technical training in poultry production for young women and men who are aspiring to become Agric–entrepreneurs. Following the completion of the technical training, a graduation ceremony was conducted for the participants.

Speaking at the graduation ceremony, the CEO of Taissen Shalom Farms, Mr Essien Taiwo, explained that the technical training included practical classes on small–scale poultry farming, egg production, vaccination, hygiene and health management, processing and marketing.

He said, “We exposed the students to the technical knowledge and skill they need to manage a poultry farms; we taught them the benefits of using high quality feed to raise their birds. The importance of using high quality feed in poultry cannot be over emphasized because 70 per cent of the total cost of production in poultry goes to feed. We also took the participants on an excursion to a feed mill so that they could see how quality poultry feed is produced.”

Holding the technical training at Taissen Shalom Farm, which is an integrated farm, gave the participants the opportunity to be trained in other areas of agriculture including fishery production and greenhouse farming.

The Team Leader, YouLead project, Mr Jerry Nwigwe, who attended the event urged the students to start up their poultry farms, assuring them of the project’s commitment to support them with business development services. He said, “We will continue providing you with support after your graduation. We have business mentors, peer mentors and business development specialists who will continue to support your businesses when you start.”

The best graduating student at the technical training, Mr Eyo Benjamin described his experience of the two-month technical training. He said, “The training is very comprehensive; I came here a novice but I can confidently say that I have learnt poultry, fishery and greenhouse farming. I will be starting my poultry farm next week with 500 hundred birds,” Benjamin said.

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More News & Events

By Uche Sophie Uduma • October 25, 2017

Particpants in Gender Mainstreaming Workshop by YouLead

On October 11–13, 2017, YouLead project conducted a three–day gender mainstreaming capacity building workshop for its implementing partners in Cross River State.

The workshop was designed to increase the participant’s awareness of gender equality concepts, foster their commitment to mainstream gender equality in their organization’s activities, and to assess their extent of implementing their Gender Equality Action Plan (GEAP).

The Country Director, Cuso International Nigeria, Mr Ebrima Sonko, who spoke at the workshop noted that women have always been socially disadvantaged, adding that project partners need to address social exclusion by effectively mainstreaming gender equality into their activities.

He said, “Cuso International works with partners and if our partners do not know how to mainstream gender into their activities, then it will be difficult for the project to mainstream gender into its activities. That is why we will continue to support our partners to ensure that they mainstream gender equality into their activities.”

In the experience sharing session, the Gender Equality Consultant for the YouLead project, Mrs Tammie Tammi Kammonke, who facilitated the workshop, urged the participants to share their experiences on issues around gender equality. She stressed the need for partners to develop gender awareness and self–awareness as women and men and be better prepared to mainstream gender equality in their different organization, after the workshop.

In the same vein, the Gender Equality officer, YouLead project, Mrs Emilia Okon, underscored the efforts of the project in ensuring that its partners mainstream gender equality into their activities. She said, “Earlier in the year, we had a gender audit for the partners, afterwards, we conducted a gender equality training for them. Having undergone training, the partners created a Gender Equality Action Plan (GEAP) on how they will mainstream gender into their work. This workshop provided a platform for us to follow up on the action plans and see how far the partners have gone in implementing it.”

One of participants, Ijeoma Ene, who represented Institute of Management and Technology Ugep at the workshop shared some of the lessons she learned from the workshop. She said, “I have learnt that gender equality is not about women trying to be men but everyone getting equal opportunities and having equal participation, I’ll make sure that people at my office are also more sensitive to this issue as well.”

Equally, the Chief Executive Officer, Ogoja Microfinance Bank, Mr Patrick Ogonu who participated in the workshop also shared ideas on how he will mainstream gender in to the activities of his bank. “I have decided that I will include gender responsive actions into my bank’s general policy and I will create a position for Gender Officer in my bank to ensure that gender is effectively mainstreamed into our activities.”

By Chris Stanley • October 16, 2017

Cuso International Hosts Town Hall Meeting

05 October, Biase, Cross River State – VOICE programme – Cuso International in partnership with the Local Government Council of Biase hosted a community gathering at the Biase Council Hall.

The Town Hall meeting provided a platform for participants to discuss the challenges to health and wellbeing in their communities. Due to the prevalence of Gender Based Violence and Teenage Pregnancy in the area, community members were encouraged to face these challenges by identifying the root causes and by proposing locally based solutions.

Emilia Okon, YouLead Gender Officer, informed participants that 28% of all women in Nigeria suffer from violence, in the forms of bodily, psychological, sexual, and economic harm. Okon said, “The victims and perpetrators of Gender Based Violence are all around us; as a community let’s talk about it, let’s identify it, and let’s solve it together.”

Ndodeye Bassey–Obongha, Head of Programmes, Girls Power Initiative (GPI) Calabar, raised the issue of Teenage Pregnancy, identifying Cross River State with the highest number of cases in the South–South at 18%. Bassey–Obongha called for the community to fight Teenage Pregnancy with knowledge and openness. “As long as a child can ask a question, we must be able to provide an age appropriate answer,” she said.

Discussions highlighted the complexity of the issues as well as the shared commitment to take what was discussed back to their households and communities. Elder Grace Ewelu, from Adim Ward, urged women to play a significant role, “We are the best teachers, you have to give your daughter proper sex health education. This should not stop with your biological daughter, you have every right to educate.”

Through the VOICE project, Cuso International endeavours to add value to the health sector in Cross River State by working directly with partners and stakeholders. The Town Hall meeting was a collaborative effort between VOICE, YouLead, GPI, Basic Counsel Rights Initiative, Second Chance Initiative, Development Option, and the Center for SUCCOUR Initiative.