Martha Zaroe, a single mother with five kids could not hide her joy as she walked away with her beautifully designed certificate of achievement upon completion of a month-long training in Entrepreneurship Development course.
She boasted, “Since I joined the UNIDO/LRRRC training program, I’m now an owner of a provision shop and participating in a daily Susu. From this business, I’m sustaining my family and able to send them to school and feed them daily.”
Martha,57, went on, “Prior to joining the program, I was doing business to feed my family but could not realize anything from it because then I had no knowledge of managing my proceeds and the profits that I received from the business. Now as a graduate I can proudly tell you that I’m saving my money with a local bank and my business is now flourishing beyond expectation. I’m so grateful to UNIDO and LRRRC for being so thoughtful in bringing this opportunity to us. I want to also thank the Government of Liberia and Japan for providing fund to this program.”
On Saturday, June 21, 2014, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) in partnership with the Liberia Refugee Repatriation and Resettlement Commission (LRRRC) graduated 245 trainees in Entrepreneurship Development Project (EDP). Few months back, UNIDO started three major interventions that included capacity building for institutions to provide entrepreneurship and vocational training to returnees for employment or self-employment; and also provide entrepreneurship development training as well as skill training with entrepreneurship development modules.
The program is benefiting both returnees and non-returnees. “I’m so happy to be part of this program and to obtain a certificate from UNIDO today. I’m now qualified for the job market and that is exactly what I’m going to do by Monday,” said Sunny Baker, a non-returnee who also graduated from the UNIDO program.
“A year ago, when we did the baseline survey of the Liberian returnees residing in Montserrado County, the survey showed 63% wanted to have their own businesses as a means of livelihood. In response to this need, the project organized a training of trainers’workshop to teach Entrepreneurship Development Program (EDP).Out of the 50 cadres trained, we mobilized 20 trainers to go to six areas of Montserrado including Gardnersville, Matadi, New Kru Town, Westpoint, Red Light and ELWA Paynesville to teach EDP. We projected to train 434 clients,” said Madam Jovita “Peewee” Culaton Viray, Chief Technical Adviser of UNIDO.
In brief remarks at the graduation ceremony of the third batch of Entrepreneurship Development Training in the Field, Ms. Viray added that the EDP is a120-hour training program conducted five days a week and four hours every day. “This means that each training program is for 30 days. It takes a lot of commitment from someone to sustain the interest to finish the training,” Viray disclosed.
“I’m happy to report that with the graduation of this batch, the project with the cooperation of each and everyone here present has graduated 658 returnees (65%) and non-returnees (35%) in entrepreneurship development out of 683 who initially joined the program,” the UNIDO CTA said.
According to Madam Viray, the number of graduates is 51 percent more than what was projected to be trained. “And in terms of gender balance, it is indeed very balance as the distribution per gender is almost equal. This also showed interest in the training with only 3.7 percent dropping off the course. For this batch, only 2 percent dropped from the course,” she said.
Ms. Viray, the tough-talking ‘Iron Lady’ of UNIDO congratulated the graduates for their perseverance and interest in joining the EDP training.Viray thanked schools and Churches that supported UNIDO in conducting the EDP training in the field.
She then encouraged the graduates to move on despite the challenges of lack of access to finance. “May the inspiration of the stories that you have heard of the previous batches making it and earning incomes by applying what they have learned in the training, encourage you to move on despite the challenges of lack of finance,” Madam Viray said.