The management of the West African Gas Pipeline Company Project (WAPCo ) has handed over start-up tools to 73 beneficiaries under its Community Youth Enterprise Scheme (CYES).
The tools, which included hairdryers, gas stoves and cylinders, ice chests, fashion and design machines all worth GH¢200,000, were handed over to the beneficiaries at Aboadze in the Shama District of the Western Region.
The beneficiaries who were trained in Hairdressing, Fashion and Design, Woodwork, Joinery and Carpentry, Catering and Hotel Management, Welding and Fabrication, Building and Construction Technology, Auto Mechanic Engineering and Electrical Engineering, used two to three years duration, depending on the course.
Mrs Harriet Wereko-Brobbey, General Manager in charge of Corporate Affairs of WAPCo, presenting the items, said as part of the company’s Corporate Social Responsibility, it commenced the implementation of a livelihood programme in 2012.
She said the programme comprised of a Scholarship Scheme and Community Youth Enterprise Scheme, which was designed to provide opportunities for unemployed youth in WAPCo’s host communities to undergo skills acquisition and vocational training in accredited vocational technical institutions across Ghana, Benin, Togo and Nigeria.
Mrs Wereko-Brobbey said in the past five years, a total of 266 youth had received support under WAPCo’s Corporate Social Responsibility projects, out of which 108 are beneficiaries of CYES, and 73 have graduated with various skills.
She said out of the 108 CYES beneficiaries, 55 of them were from the Aboadze area, with the rest from Tema Manhean and Kpone.
Mrs Wereko-Brobbey said WAPCo has so far spent about GH¢2.5 million in the livelihood programme in Ghana, noting that the amount did not include the cost of the start-up tools.
She said, as part of efforts to ensure that the graduands managed their businesses in a sustainable manner the company would engage the services of professionals to take them through some training in the principles of business management.
Under the company’s scholarship scheme, she explained that it supported brilliant but needy students to obtain secondary education, but that following the introduction of the free Senior High School policy, WAPCo had reviewed its scholarship scheme, which now supported brilliant but needy students to pursue education at the tertiary level.
Mrs Wereko-Brobbey said the company was currently supporting 36 students in university with $600 each for each academic year.
The General Manager congratulated the beneficiaries for availing themselves for the skills training, and urged them to make judicious use of the start-up tools, so as to improve upon their living conditions.
The Deputy Western Regional Minister, Mrs Gifty Eugenia Kusi, commended WAPCo for the bold initiative, which, she noted, would serve as a life-changing measure for many of the beneficiaries.
She pointed out that if all companies in the country were living up to their CSR projects, it would have helped to eliminate poverty in many communities, and also create jobs for the teeming youth.
Mrs Kusi, in this regard, tasked giant companies operating in Ghana to perform their corporate social responsibility projects to their host communities to eliminate poverty.
She advised WAPCo to put in place an Employment Working Committee to comprise of chiefs, opinion leaders and the District Assembly.
This committee, she noted, would enable them to effectively implement the local content policy.
She further urged the beneficiaries to take the skills they have acquired seriously, and try to build on what they have been taught by taking up courses at the tertiary level.
Nana Kobina Attom II, Chief of Aboadze, also lauded the efforts of WAPCo, stressing that the programme was a milestone in the history of the Aboadze Traditional Area.
He suggested that WAPCo should employ some of the beneficiaries with the requisite skills, noting that there was no one from the Aboadze area working with WAPCo.
He urged the beneficiaries not to sell the start-up tools they have been provided with, and hinted that a monitoring team would be put in place, and anyone caught diverting the items would be made to face the law.
Mrs Francisca Kain, District Girl Child Education Coordinator, described the programme as an economic empowerment initiative, and urged the beneficiaries to use the skills they have acquired to position themselves as role models for others to emulate.
She said the initiative would be meaningless if the beneficiaries did not use the items properly.
Mr Percy Ahenakwah, Presiding Member of the Shama District, pledged that the Assembly would give the beneficiaries the needed support to ensure the sustainability of the programme, and urged them to take very good care of the items.