Rep. Koon empowers Over 150 Women With Vocational Skills
One hundred fifty-three women over the weekend (March 25) graduated with new vocational skills after months of intensive studies at the District 11 Community Savings and Loan Vocational Institute.
The jubilating women earned skills in Tailoring, Catering and Pastry, Beauty and Care (Cosmetology), Soap Making, Event Decoration, and Tye & Dye.
Established in 2022 by Representative Richard Nagbe Koon, the District 11 Community Savings and Loan Vocational Institute offers training free of charge. It was established as a way of empowering residents, mostly women and less fortunate, to get valuable skills that will empower them to get self-employed and live better lives, the lawmaker said.
Serving as a guest speaker, Mr. Samuel A. Tukpah, Assistant Secretary General of the Liberia National Olympic Committee, congratulated the graduates for acquiring new knowledge that will stay with them for life. Speaking on the theme “Knowledge is Power”, Tukpah applauded Rep Koon for providing an opportunity to mothers, daughters, wives, and underprivileged citizens to gain knowledge and become powerful in making better decisions for their lives.
Tukpah stated that “nothing could be as good as giving the gift of knowledge” to the people of District 11 as their lawmaker has done.
He said shelling out money from pockets to poor people or giving them one-time meals to feed empty stomachs was not a way to empower citizens against poverty. Rather, he argued, providing them opportunities to build their skills would enable them to take independent and collective actions against poverty and better decisions for their families and societies.
Saturday’s graduation was the first of the vocational institute, which basically targeted women who are part of the 94 loan and saving clubs the lawmaker has planted across the district. Rep Koon underwrites the clubs’ administrative costs, including staff’s stipend and stationery.
Koon established the Village Savings and Loan scheme in 2019 across District 11 to provide micro-loans to residents to either establish or expand their businesses and stand against poverty, exploitation, and abuses.
Not satisfied that the loan scheme was sufficient and sustainable enough for his people, Koon introduced the vocational component to the loan scheme to build the skills of residents.
According to the Lawmaker, he saw the need to expand the horizon of the people by going beyond just petty trade and loan business to giving them valuable and lasting life skills. “I felt and thought that it would be worth building the human capacity of residents in my District, many of whom are single parents and breadwinners, struggling to bring up their children–to give them a future.”
Though the program focuses primarily on women’s empowerment, it’s equally open to young men in the district who are desirous of acquiring technical and vocational skills and changing the course of their lives.
District 11 Manager Tarley D. Tayor described the first graduation as the beginning of greater things to be done by Rep Koon in terms of empowering residents of the district to take their destinies into their own hands through economic empowerment programs.
He said resources are being sought and partnerships are being built both at home and abroad to bring in more modernized training materials to make the learning experiences effective and impactful.
Toryor told the jubilant hall of graduates and family members that the District Representative is investing in the human resource capacity of his people on the ground that people with technical knowledge and skills are the backbone of local enterprises, community development, and nation-building.
Koon is the first Representative to establish a Community Savings and Loan Scheme across District 11. The scheme has 94 micro-loan clubs with nearly 3,000 members. The program is empowering residents to take small loans that empower them to address pressing home issues or invest in table markets and other positive ventures.