By Chinelo Obogo

Wema Bank has launched the second cohort for the FGN-ALAT Digital Skillnovation Programme in partnership with the Federal Government to train and equip two million young people and 1 million MSMEs across Nigeria with relevant digital skills.

Since the launch of the first cohort in 2023, over 300,000 youths and business owners have leveraged the platform as a launchpad for their business and career success. This cohort featured 100% virtual learning sessions through which participants from the 36 states in Nigeria and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) were provided with self-paced online learning experiences.

As cohort 2 begins in the second quarter of 2024, the FGN-ALAT digital programme is officially transitioning to physical training sessions and the curriculum will cover key digital skills including software engineering, product management, business analysis, cloud computing and product design, among others.

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This phase of the programme will be executed via FGN-ALAT digital hubs, which will be set up in the different states across the six geopolitical zones in Nigeria to ensure that every Nigerian can access the programme’s full benefits regardless of their location. These hubs will be equipped with training and incubation facilities ideal for digital-driven learning, giving participants the opportunity to acquire marketable and transferrable digital skills and gain a competitive edge in the global digital ecosystem. The FGN-ALAT digital hubs will be set up in phases and trainings will commence accordingly, starting with Borno  and Anambra State.

Wema Bank’s Executive Director of Retail and Digital Business, Tunde Mabawonku, emphasised the pivotal role of the programme in bridging the gaps in Nigeria’s macroeconomic landscape towards national development. “We are unwavering in our commitment to supporting MSMEs and with the FGN-ALAT Digital Skillnovation Programme, it’s all about the bigger picture—which is why we have partnered with the Federal Government to augment the scale of this programme’s impact. By tailoring this programme to suit the needs of both entrepreneurial minded and professionally inclined Nigerians, we are not just arming SMEs for more efficient business management and growth, we are also equipping Nigeria’s workforce for increased productivity and the ripple effect will not only create more viable employment opportunities for Nigerians towards reduced unemployment and underemployment rates, but further drive economic growth and national development, boosting Nigeria’s position on the global playing field.

“The digital evolution is moving sporadically and by empowering our youth and MSMEs with in-demand digital skills, we are ensuring that Nigeria is not left behind as the world evolves. Beyond the intellectual resources and other non-monetary opportunities, we are going a step further to provide financial support for these participants in form of millions of naira in equity capital, soft loans and grants, to enable them put their learnings to practice and build sustainable streams of income that could help them become employers in their own right. I encourage you to take the big step forward in achieving your business and career goals by joining the programme. All you have to do is visit the website to register. This programme is completely free and there’s more than enough room for you. Your success is Nigeria’s success and as your unique journey unravels, our promise remains certain,” he said.

Referring to the programme as an eye-opener for all, Mariam Isah, a beneficiary of Cohort 1, said, “It’s almost unbelievable all I’ve learnt in one month virtual training. I started this training simply looking for a way forward for my business but I have unlocked secrets that are life changing not just in my business but in all aspects of life. I am so grateful for this rare opportunity, and I can’t wait to be a part of the cohort 2.”