A two-day STEP & YAGEP Product Exhibition and Business Fair has been flagged-off in Asaba by Governor Ifeanyi Okowa for beneficiaries of the State Government’s Skills Training and Entrepreneurship Programme (STEP) and the Youth Agricultural and Entrepreneurs Programme (YAGEP.) The product exhibition which had over 400 youths and beneficiaries of the State Government’s job and wealth creation programmes in attendance attracted Deltans from all walks of life, financial organizations, development partners, Chambers of Commerce, corporate organizations, non-governmental organizations and business men and women. According to the Governor, “Globally, it has been established that certain economic sectors and activities hold the highest potentials for job and wealth creation for the economy. These are agriculture, agri-business, agro-based industries, vocational skills-based micro enterprises, cottage enterprises, small and medium scale enterprises as well as public works such as environmental sanitation, housing and road construction. In fact, interventions in these sectors are generally cost effective and go a long to reduce youth unemployment and poverty.” He said investment in Micro, Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (MSMEs) through the Delta State job creation programmes is the best way out of poverty and youth unemployment and hopes to continue with the scheme in spite of the down-turn in the economic fortunes of the state. He said the flagship of the STEP and YAGEP has helped the state to achieve what many thought was unthinkable with over 2, 000 youths gainfully employed. “After two programme cycles, 2,324 previously unemployed youths are now small business owners and employers of labour,” he enthused. The Governor commended the Office of the Chief Job Creation Officer for organizing the products exhibition and business fair, pointing out that the beneficiaries were trained and given standardized starter packs to begin their enterprises in Fashion Design & Tailoring; Electrical Installation & Repairs; ICT Services, Audio-Visual Technology; Hairdressing & Makeover; Decoration & Event Management; Catering & Confectionery; Cosmetology; Craft/Homecare Products; Shoe-Making; Upholstery; Welding & Fabrication, Barbing and in building services such as Tiling, POP, Interlocking, Plumbing and Block Moulding. Others are Aquaculture; Piggery; Poultry; Crop Production and Piggery. The Chief Job Creation Officer, Prof Eric Eboh, in his welcome address, pointed out that the exhibition is designed to provide an opportunity for beneficiaries of the State Government’s job creation programme to exhibit and market their products, make business contacts and establish business relationships that will transform their business enterprises. In his words, “Today’s occasion is in fulfilment of the State Government’s goal of tracking, nurturing and supporting beneficiaries of the job creation scheme, branded as STEPreneurs & YAGEPreneurs.”  Prof Eboh said the key drivers of the job creation programmes are three-fold namely, “the training is comprehensive, standardized and quality assured. The second is that the enterprise starter packs are appropriate and complete, coupled with integrity of delivery and the third is close monitoring and feedback as well as nurturing of the beneficiaries, as exemplified by this exhibition and business fair.” Continuing, he explained that, “the beneficiaries are already successfully running their own enterprises, earning incomes and contributing to the economy of the state, while many have not only trained or employed additional persons and are now job creators, but have innovated their skills and diversified their business since their initial training.” He added that to underscore the essence of the exhibition and business fair, the Office of the Chief Job Creation Officer duly engaged and paid for the services of STEPreneurs in the execution of various aspects of the exhibition which included venue utilities, electricity connections, audio-visual facilities and refreshment items. Responding, Francess Enyi a Poultry Farmer and Sophia Omore, a Cosmetologist expressed their delight in being part of the products exhibition and business fair. They expressed their gratitude to the State Government for giving them the opportunity to market their products and enterprises to the world. The exhibition was witnessed by the Governor of Sokoto State, Alhaji Amino Tambulwa, the former Governor of Delta State, Chief James Ibori among other dignitaries. Gertrude Onyekachukwu-Uteh Communication Officer