After an intensive five days waste to wealth training on water hyacinth which began last Monday, the Lagos State Government on Friday gave 50 women participants in Badagry at the training N15,000 take-off grant to launch them into business.
The women were picked from different communities in the Badagry division. It was the first time that government is taking a bold step in empowering Badagry women in crafts using water hyacinth. The empowerment scheme was organised by the Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA).
Presenting the grants to beneficiaries at the ceremony, LASWA Managing Director Mr Damilola Emmanuel said LASWA’s focus was to fight poverty. He said the weed which has become a major menace to water bodies in the state could be harvested and turned into a means of livelihood.
“We have realised that this particular waste can be turned into wealth. This programme is meant to transform waste to wealth. We picked 50 participants across the different divisions in Badagry.
“This Initiative has been taken to Epe, earlier in the year and now, its in Badagry after here, we will move to other zones in the state. The Badagry participants expectations is that they will be empowered so they will know how to turn this waste into marketable products with which they can make a living and in turn mentor other women.

LASWA MD, Mr Damilola Emmanuel and other guests at the event

“They have been carefully selected and this will be a source of revenue for them while to others, it will be an extra source of income,” he said.
He said many of the women had continued to wonder at the useful products that could be crafted out of water hyacinth.
The state government, at the beginning of the five days training, had promised to give the women an undisclosed amount as grant. The grant, according to government, would enable the women start up a micro business on the skills acquired.
After the five days training, the ecstatic women were handed N15,000 as grant.
The women and a traditional head eulogised the state government for the gesture. They said the amount is enough to start the handicraft business.
One of the beneficiaries Zongbosi Mautin, praised the government for the gesture. She promised to make a very good use of the knowledge acquired at the training to improve her life.
“I have learnt a lot about water hyacinth. I must admit that I have never heard of the opportunity I learnt here before. I thank the state government for the initiative. Water hyacinth was like a problem to us. I am really grateful that we have an opportunity to know that we can turn this problem to profit.”
Other beautiful works crafted out of hyacinth
Mautin continued, “I have the intention of moving further with the water hyacinth recycling skill and this N15,000 would no doubt go a long way to begin the my journey in the business. The grant given to us will be okay since most of the materials needed are with us.”
Usifo Angela, another beneficiary said she would manage it to start a business. According to her, she may rely on family and friends as a means of getting assistance to begin a thriving business on handicraft.
“On my own, I will start by introducing my work to friends and family members. The amount is okay because most of materials are easily available by the waterside, you will get the coconut seeds and water hyacinth.”
The traditional head of Mobee Kingdom in Badagry, Chief Patrick Yedenu Mobee thanked the state government for bringing such initiative to his people.
He said his people never knew water hyacinth could be useful and be turned into something of commercial value. He then advised his people to put the skill acquired to positive use and improve their economic status in life.
“This is another fantastic initiative of the present administration and a wonderful development if our people could really work on it. It is also going to boost the economy of Badagry, Lagos and Nigeria.” Chief Mobee said.
LASWA’s Managing Director Mr Emmanuel, assured beneficiaries that the government would be willing to scale up their activity and include the scheme in the list of items which could be spondored by the state’s Employment Trust Fund.
He further revealed that LASWA would be embarking on regular monitoring of the activities of the beneficiaries “for follow ups after a few weeks, just to know how they are faring on the acquired skills.”
The Executive Secretary of the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund Mr Akin Oyebode reassured serious beneficiaries that they would be supported by the government. He said the Fund would be ready to give them more grant.
“We have a scheme for people like this. We have asked them to keep their certificates, bring them together as a group and take them through our loan application process. For this year, we are no longer funding any programme, because we don’t lend out fund in December, but we will not hesitate to accommodate them next year,” Oyebode said.
Quizzed on the accessibility of loans, he said the process of accessing loan from LSETF is easy. Saying; “the only collateral we request is social collateral which is an individual who can stand for you. And our standard rate for the loan is 5% per annum. That is the cheapest that you can get in Nigeria today.”
The facilitator and trainer on the use of water hyacinth for hand craft products, Ms Achenyo Idachaba, founder of Mitimeth commended the women on their enthusiasm to learn.
She said: “We transform water hyacinth to functional use, specifically, hand craft items. Water hyacinth has been an environmental menace. It is a danger to aquatic species, it has invaded our waterways. It makes movement of boat cumbersome. It curtails access to the waterways. When fishermen go out with their boats, they are always afraid of the hyacinth because it can damage it.
“We are here to empower the community that is adversely affected by the water hyacinth. We are equipping them with the basic skills. We are turning this adversity to prosperity.”
So many people living within the islands, particularly, riverine areas had seen water hyacinth as a very dangerous material. It deprives the water of oxygen and also has an effect on species.
Going with such mind set, they found it difficult to believe that water hyacinth can be turned to useful products.