Motivation is the catalyzing ingredient for every successful venture. Without it, chances to succeed become frail. Motivation usually comes in two ways – in words and in kind. For some young entrepreneurs in Akwa Ibom state, it has been coming in kind, more specifically, in cash. All thanks to the Rt. Hon. Aniekan Bassey Youth Entrepreneurship Support Scheme (RHAB-YESS), an initiative of The Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon Aniekan Bassey. The Scheme is aimed at discovering, mentoring and supporting young entrepreneurs to financial greatness and sustainability.

The scheme, which is sync with Governor Udom Emmanuel’s Enterprise Development Drive, has supported 53 Small and Medium Businesses, trained over 28 Artisans and given 383 special supports in the last 18 months of its existence. The Special Support include free medical services, scholarships, grants to rural market women, installation of electricity transformers, provision of borehole water, empowerments, etc.

Every month, three beneficiaries are selected through a rigorous process. Contestants are expected to make five minutes video documentaries of their businesses, post same on YouTube, fill the online form, add the YouTube link and submit. Nine best videos would be selected from the pool and subsequently placed on RHAB-YESS Facebook page for final selection of the Best-Three. The final selection would then be based on the number of comments garnered from viewers.

On Tuesday 13 July, 2021, six young entrepreneurs, who are beneficiaries of the 17th and 18th editions of the programme, received their cash prizes in the order of Winners, First and Second Runner ups.

The winners included Abigail Nse Okon (N250,000), a Cobbler from Nsit Ubium LGA; Aniekan Effiong (N250,000), an auto-mechanic from Uruan LGA and Eno Akpan Akpah (N100,000), a Hairstylist from Nsit Ubium LGA.

Others were Mfon Bassey ($500),  an E-commerce Expert from Uruan LGA, Ifreke Godsaves Okon (N150,000), a Fashion Designer from Nsit Ibom LGA and Emmanuel Atakpa (N100,000), a Sound/Video Editor from Mkpat Enin LGA.

In addition, six final year students of the University of Uyo, who on RHAB-YESS’ fill scholarship, received cash support for their final year projects.

Rt. Hon. Bassey, while speaking at the event, admonished the beneficiaries to ensure that they use the money for the purpose for which it was given.

“It is not a time to spend the money on frivolous things that will add nothing to your growth. This cash, however meagre it is, can take you to your next level in life, if properly used.

“Today in Akwa Ibom State, everybody wants to be a politician. Everybody wants to run after politicians or be a Personal Assistant or a Supervisor, forgetting that the economy of this country is run by entrepreneurs. Everybody cannot be politicians, that is why you are given this grant,” he said.

The Speaker, who was represented by the Chairman of the House Committee on Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and Member representing Uyo State Constituency, Hon. Anietie Eka, further charged the beneficiaries to cultivate the attitude of telling the good deeds of public office holders, which he said would boost the confidence of the politician and encourage them to do more for others.

Earlier in an opening remark, the RHAB-YESS Manager and Special Assistant to the Speaker on Media and Communications, Mr. Darlington Udobong, who thanked the Speaker for the initiative, said being an indigene of Akwa Ibom State is the only eligibility to participate in the scheme.

“The scheme is not restricted only to indigenes of Uruan Local Government Area where the Speaker hails from, but open to all Akwa Ibom people,” he explained.

In an interaction with this reporter, Eno Akpan Akpah, one of the beneficiaries who is a hairstylist, said that she would use the money to buy a Power Generating set and a Dryer to further expand her business. She thanked the Speaker for the initiative.

Also speaking, another beneficiary, Emmanuel Atakpa, a Sound/Video Editor, said that with the money, he would now be able to buy a laptop and other gadgets that would help his business grow.

The Speaker, who is renowned for the manufacturing and production of goods and services with hundreds of persons in his employ, became an entrepreneur at the age of 17. It is not surprising that a man of his calibre is championing a cause like this. In different fora, Hon. Bassey has expressed hope that, through this initiative, Akwa Ibom State will become the Singapore of Nigeria. Only time will tell.

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