The Rector, Federal Polytechnic Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State, Dr. Theresa Akande has announced in Abuja that the institution’s Centre for Entrepreneurship Development and Vocational Studies has produced over 7,500 graduates in the last five years.
Akande said the centre took off in 2011 to encourage self-reliance among students of the polytechnic, adding that it offers training in 17 skills relevant to the economy of Ekiti as agrarian state. “The idea is to help our students turn the skills they learn in the polytechnic into real business enterprise that will stand them in good stead when they leave school.
“So, we have churned out graduates in event making, bakery, poultry, welding, aquaculture, tie and dye, among others. “On the average, we produce over 1,500students every year and this programme has been on for five years. “So far, it has been a success story, and it is now a centre of excellence for entrepreneurship as recognised by the United State Agency for International Development [USAID],’’ she said.
Akande explained that both USAID and Winrock, an international development organisation with focus on social, agricultural and environmental issues, were providing technical support to the centre.
The rector said that the institution had a good graduate tracking and feedback mechanism that enables it to monitor the progress of its graduates. “USAID has helped us to develop a very good tracking system in the form of questionnaires after graduation for monitoring. “We also have a very good feedback mechanism, which enables us, through the alumni association, to keep track of our students.
“We are equally planning an entrepreneurship village where our graduates with exceptional skills can own them and develop it further into small-scale businesses for self-reliance,’’ she added.
Akande said plans were underway to set up a credit scheme to assist trainees of the centre with soft loans to establish their businesses upon graduation. “The major constraint we are facing right now is the issue of funding. That is why we want to set up something like a cooperative, a self-help which will enable them to have access to loans.
“In my position, I could not access loan from the bank, not to talk of somebody who has just graduated. “That is why we are also approaching Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria and other agencies to assist us, to be able to set up this loan scheme to assist them.’’