As part of a medium to long term sustainable intervention, in the fight against coronavirus and its effects, His Majesty, Nnaemeka Achebe, Agbogidi, Obi of Onitsha has announced plans to implement an Onitsha Economic Empowerment Programme.
The Onitsha Advancement Foundation, an incorporated entity, promoted by the Onitsha Traditional Council will be charged with the responsibility of the implementation.
The OnAF itself has been restructured with an expanded Board of Directors comprising of part time members all of which are highly experienced, diligent and committed indigenes of Onitsha; an Advisory Board made up of members of the Onitsha Traditional Council and constituent groups; and Workgroups of Onitsha professionals focused on implementing specific aspects of the Economic Empowerment Programme.
According to His Majesty, the programme needs substantial hard work in order to ensure that the poor within Onitsha are lifted out of poverty. Also, he commended the efforts put in place to conceptualize the programme. Some of the other programmes carried out in Onitsha include the Onitsha Community Covid Response Programme (OCCRT) and the Economic Empowerment Study Panel (EESP), which addressed the medium to long term economic and social consequences of Covid-19 on the community.
In terms of the Economic Empowerment Programme, three initiatives: business learning, technological skills acquisition, and financial intermediation will serve as the lead. These are the Onitsha Leadership and Entrepreneurship Centre (OLEC); (Onicha) Ado Business Incubation Centre (ABIC), and a Microfinance Institution/Microfinance Bank (MFI/MFB).
OLEC will be in charge of the business aspect. Here, the focus is on creating passion for learning about businesses, and how small businesses can be created and grown. Prof. Alex Ike Ikeme leads the OLEC workgroup and he is a seasoned teacher, coach, facilitator and mentor with over thirty years of experience in entrepreneurship development studies and practice.
ABIC on its part will serve as a catalyst tool to help new technology start-ups grow and develop. Its responsibility also includes helping startups accelerate and make optimum use of incubator resources. Charles Uchenna Emembolu, an information technology architecture expert is the lead for the ABIC workgroup.
Charged with the responsibility of offering financial resources to low/medium income populations is MFI/MFB. Also, it covers targeting financial services at self-employed, micro and small businesses generally overlooked in the society. Nnamdi Anammah, a financial expert with a proven record of covering commercial banking, corporate finance and stockbroking heads the MFI/MFB workgroup.
A plan to establish a health and well-being workgroup charged with the duty of ascertaining the modalities for a community basic health care programme, is also in place. In addition, a critical enabler for the Economic Empowerment Programme being developed is the Value Reorientation campaign.
Through this, Onitsha indegenes can learn vital foundational principles that will help them key into and avail themselves for other elements of the Economic Empowerment Programme. Nn’emeka Maduegbuna, a communications consultant with three decades plus of experience in strategic communications planning, corporate positioning and reputation management amongst others will spearhead this initiative.
Building on the 2017 broad-based project tagged “Take Onicha Ado N’Idu to the Next Level”, which explored developmental and repositioning needs of the ancient kingdom, a panel of Onitsha experts charged by His Majest, were at the forefront of conceptualizing these strategies, as part of efforts to support the struggling and budding entrepreneurs in Onitsha to prevail irrespective of the Corona virus pandemic.