L-R; Representative Rite foods, Mr. Babatunde Tijani; Permanent Secretary, Office of Civic Engagement, Mr. Hakeem Adeniji; Special Adviser on Civic Engagement, Princess Aderemi Adebowale; Commissioner, Commerce, Industry and Cooperatives, Dr. Lola Akande and representative of Pepsi Cola, Mrs. Egwu Uchenna Jane at the flag-off of the second phase of Eko Cares Initiative organized by the Office of Civic Engagement at the Adeyemi Bero Auditorium, Alausa.

Lagos State Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu on Wednesday empowered another set of 2,000 indigent Lagosians through the ‘Eko Cares’ programme.

This is in with keeping his promises to lift many people out of poverty at grassroots level.

In 2019, the governor empowered 2,000 beneficiaries through the first phase of the programme.

Speaking at the second edition of Lagos empowerment programme tagged,’ Eko Cares: Go forward, Grow Lagos’ in Ikeja, Lagos, Special Adviser, Office of Civic Engagement, Princess Aderemi Adebowale, said Eko Care is a social intervention programme of the Lagos State government designed by the Office of Civic Engagement, as a palliative measure for the vulnerable, less privileged, lower echelon of the Lagos society.

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According to her, “The initiative aims to create a platform for financial empowerment of the poorest of the poor in the state thus enhancing socio-economic inclusion and cohesion.”

Adebowale said that Eko Cares was launched in December 2019 by the Governor, as a means of supporting indigent Lagosians, the poorest of the poor who could hardly sustain themselves, saying with the last batch, 4,000 people had benefited from the initiative.

“The programme was aimed at catering for the masses, especially the poorest of the poor. You would agree with me that apart from improving the sources of livelihoods of the beneficiaries, the initiative would enhance the state’s achievement of sustainable development goals of No poverty (Goal 1), Zero hunger (Goal 2), Decent Works and Economic Growth (Goal 8) and Reduced Inequalities (Goal 9) but to mention but a few”, she said.

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Adebowale stated that the beneficiaries were selected across the 20 local governments and 37 local council development areas of the state.

She added that this year’s phase had been enriched with the micro-business components wherein instead of direct cash payments as was in the first phase, participants received products worth N10,000 directly from partnering with companies at below factory prices, which allowed them to start trading in their neighborhood at a competitive advantage, thereby maximizing profits.

The Special Adviser, however, advised the beneficiaries to see the empowerment as a golden opportunity to lift them out of the woods, saying that her office would continue to monitor and engage them individually and collectively to ensure they were growing in their businesses.

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Commissioner for Commerce, Industry and Cooperatives, Dr. Lola Akande, in her address, said it was an understatement that a lot of people needed financial assistance to solve a mirage of challenges ranging from chronic ailments, accidents, diverse degrees of disasters, to loss of jobs, occasioned by the prevalence of COVID-19 pandemic.

Akande urged all beneficiaries to make the best use of the opportunity and also enjoined them to be innovative and dynamic.