Abiola Seun |
Despite the coronavirus pandemic that ravaged countries around the world in 2020 and affect economic activities, Oil and gas logistics company, INTELS Nigeria Limited, still train a fresh batch of 40 women under its Women Empowerment Programme Scheme Synergy (WEPSS).
WEPSS is a Corporate Social Responsibility initiative established by INTELS in 2013 to empower 5,000 community women over a 20-year period through training in fashion design and tailoring. The beneficiaries are trained in two batches every year.
Since inception seven years ago, no fewer than 1,400 women drawn from various communities across the country have benefited from the empowerment scheme.
Speaking at the graduation ceremony for beneficiaries of the 2020 Batch ‘A’ training held at the Federal Lighter Terminal, Onne Port, Rivers State recently, the Managing Director of INTELS Nigeria Limited represented by the Regional Human Resources Manager, Mr. Michael Ndon, said WEPSS was designed to make the beneficiaries “future employers”.
He said, “Graduation of trainees has been a tradition for us because INTELS cares. This is one of our empowerment schemes for the communities around us and we are very happy that over the years, so many people have graduated from this scheme and we are also aware that many of them are doing very well.
“We realized that there was a need to empower the people, to create future entrepreneurs. This is not about just giving fish, but teaching how to fish so that they become future employers.”
While commending the WEPSS trainers for their commitment to the realization of the scheme despite the challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, Ndon urged the beneficiaries to make good use of the knowledge acquired in the course of their training.
“This year has particularly been a difficult year because of COVID-19. We thank the team of trainers who, during this period, were able to get the training done and we are now witnessing the graduation.
“The intention of management is that this exercise should be continued. But how will we be encouraged to do this? It is only when the trainees after leaving here continue to fulfill the other objectives of this programme to create more entrepreneurs. We want to encourage the trainees to take the programme very seriously so that when we look back, we will be encouraged to do more,” he said.
The Project Manager for WEPPS, Nancy Freeborn, expressed satisfaction with the follow-up exercise carried out on trainees who have graduated from the scheme; many of whom she said are now engaged by reputable fashion houses.
“We are not just empowering them and throwing them out to the street, we check on them and they are doing very well out there. Anytime we go out for our follow up exercise, we come back with very exciting stories as some of our trainees are now working in fashion houses while some set up shops of their own,” she said.
Freeborn added that through WEPPS, INTELS is also reaching out to less privileged persons in the society.
She said, “Very recently, we were faced with the COVID-19 pandemic, right here in this factory, we produced well over 13,000 pieces of face masks out of which 1,500 pieces went out to Onne Local Government Council to support them in the fight against virus and we handed this over to them during the handing over of the ultra modern market that was built for the community by INTELS.
“We also donated 558 garments to Badamia Association Home, a charity home that caters for teenage boys picked up from the streets and gives them the chance for a brighter future. We are poised to deliver another 728 garment to the Port Harcourt Compassion Home. We are doing all these despite the challenges of COVID-19. This shows INTELS has a big heart.”
The Best Graduating Student of the WEPSS 2020 Batch ‘A’ training, 28-year old Ruth James Imabong, expressed appreciation to INTELS for setting up the programme and “making the dreams of many women a reality”.
“Before coming here I knew nothing about sewing but when I came, they started from the scratch, teaching us how to thread the machine and every other thing. I feel so excited and overwhelmed being the Best Graduating Student. I am going to advance the training and set up on my own,” she said.
For emerging as the Best Graduating Student, Imabong was rewarded with start-up kits, which include an industrial sewing machine, chair, scissors, box of tailors and a measuring tape by the management of INTELS.
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