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Raising the bar in women empowerment

The Nation logo The Nation 03/05/2021 Oluwatomisin Amokeoja

Twenty women from various vocational backgrounds are on their way to becoming budding entrepreneurs. They are beneficiaries of last week’s maiden edition of a women empowerment programme organised in Lagos by JD Recycling, a company that specialises in converting vehicles’ used tyres to furniture, interior decors and playground items. The interactive and hands-on training, if replicated by other entrepreneurs and corporates, could be the template to groom the next generation of women entrepreneurs. Assistant Editor CHIKODI OKEREOCHA reports.

She had it all planned out. From the venue for the training to the lineup of certified trainers and facilitators, as well as carefully-curated topics, Lagos-based waste recycling company JD Recycling, organisers of the maiden edition of the women empowerment programme, set out to deliver an impactful training programme for women.

And at the end of the training, which held in Lagos, last week, at the residence of the company’s founder/Managing Director, Mrs. Ayodele Olaide, 20 women participants from various vocations went home armed with skills and fresh ideas to take on the world of business.

“We decided to use my residence as venue for the training to show women that they can work from home,” Olaide explained, noting that the women empowerment programme was part of what JD Recycling is all about. “From inception, we had the plan of training women because we believe that they are influencers; they can influence their environment, influence their families to know the benefits and importance of recycling, because we actually need to start from the root,” she told The Nation, pointing out that although, it was the maiden edition of the training, she intends to make it a monthly programme.

Explaining the selection process for the training, Olaide whose company specialises in converting vehicles’ used tyres to furniture, interior decors and playground items, said there were actually no criteria for selection; the only requirement is that an applicant must be a woman or a female.

“The other thing that is also required is that a prospective trainee must be willing to start a business even if it is not recycling, but at least, she should be able to start something on her own,” she added, noting that the training was free.

Olaide said her company ran an advert on social media platform Instagram requesting for only 10 women to apply. However, it ended up having 20 women for the training instead of 10. “We wanted to train 10 women, but one out of my five friends I approached for sponsorship volunteered to sponsor extra 10 women. So, we had 20 women instead of 10,” she explained.

She, however, said some of her friends had indicated interest to sponsor the next edition of the training programme, which will hold in May this year.

The successful entrepreneur, who ditched a career in banking and turned to waste recycling, pointed out that JD Recycling had the capacity to train between 50 and 100 women, depending on the availability of sponsors. “The higher the sponsorship, the more women we bring on board the training,” she said.

She said the company’s painstaking selection of certified trainers and facilitators and topics for the training attest to its commitment to helping to groom the next generation of women entrepreneurs who are ready to do exploits.

For instance, one of the certified trainers, Mr. Ajewole Akinjide, of Remoik Nigeria Limited, a Lagos-based professional training and consulting organisation, set the ball rolling when he took participants through the topic, “Innovative skills in recycling.” While reminding them that innovation is about new approach or new idea to doing business, he said what sets an aspiring or existing entrepreneur apart in business is the competitive advantage he or she has over others. He, therefore, urged them to  stimulate their innovative mindset to gain the competitive edge that will make them different from others.

Another trainer was the Creative Director/Chief Executive Officer of Purple Stripes, a footwear and accessories manufacturing/retailing brand, Mrs. Fehintoluwa Dada. The Oyo State-born Pure and Applied Mathematics graduate-turned shoe maker took the trainees on the topic ‘Art and Craft,’ teaching them the rudiments of making footwear and other accessories. Purely interactive and participatory, Dada ensured that all the trainees had a feel of art and craft.

It was the same approach Mrs. Olaide adopted when she delivered her topic, ‘How to start a recycling business.’ She took the training off the top desk, assembling all the equipment and tools such as drilling machine, scissors, gum, woods etc needed by the trainees to try their hands on the use of tyres to make assorted household items.

On his part, Mr. Shomade Damilola took participants through the ‘Art of selling, digitally,” exposing them to the use of technology and social media to sell their products and services.

One of the lucky beneficiaries of the empowerment programme, Mercy Ohia, a Knitter and Crocheter, from Osun State, described the experience as “Wonderful and rewarding.” She said on the strength of the training programme, she has discovered all the things she has been disposing in her house can be used to produce other things and make money and also beautify her house.

“The organisers have done so much for us. All of us that came here  never knew we could get this much within a short time. For every one of us that have it in mind to leverage this opportunity to make money, I am very sure that we can make a lot of money from what we learnt today, especially when we put it in practice,” she told The Nation, adding that she saw the training opportunity online and decided to apply.

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