THE Nigeria Entrepreneurs Forum (NEF) and Organisation of Women in International Trade (OWIT) have called on the Federal Government to provide support for women-owned businesses for enhanced contribution to national economy.
Dr Sidney Inegbedion, the President of NEF and Ms Blessing Irabor, the OWIT Nigeria President made the call on Thursday when they paid a courtesy call to the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment in Abuja.
A delegation of the two organisations were received by the Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment Amb. Mariam Katagum.
According the presidents of the two organisations, the visit is to brief the minister of state on their plans and programmes, following a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) earlier signed by NEF and OWIT.
They said that the MoU was for data and information sharing for joint implementation of women-related projects, training and funding for women-owned enterprises as well as policy advocacy, among others.
Irabor said that as Nigeria looked toward economic recovery from the current economic challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, there was need for the Federal Government to boost the capacity of women entrepreneurs.
She called for capacity building programmes, marching funds for the standardisation and certification of women-owned businesses to boost their competiveness, as well as aid programmes to support digital access for Nigerian women business owners.
“Now is the ideal time to deliberately mainstream the needs of women-owned businesses with government policies and its recovery programmes.
“For every export that is done in the country today, out of 10 you don’t have more than two women exporting.
“OWIT is coming on board to see how this narrative can be changed using the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
“We can have more women participating in trade across the globe and giving them support so that they can understand how they can make their products stand side-by-side with any product coming from other countries.
“So that women in Nigeria have to be the drivers of trade if we are well supported because we have what it takes to drive the Nigerian economy through women entrepreneurs in the country.
“We look forward to having a partnership with your ministry to genuinely build national prosperity and stability through comprehensive support for the internationalisation of women- owned businesses in Nigeria,” she said.
In his speech, Inegbedion said to effectively actualise NEF projects with OWIT Nigeria, there was need for international funding and technical assistance.
He therefore prayed that the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment lent its support by endorsing its project proposals since such support would be treated as grants to Nigeria.
“Our entrepreneurship development efforts over the years have led us to the conclusion that the issue of women socio-economic inclusion and empowerment are crucial to accelerating our development as a nation.
“For ages, the Nigerian woman has been disenfranchised through traditional and cultural barriers, religious impediments, educationally disadvantaged, low accessibility to finance as well as gender disparity in leadership positions.
“This is why the Nigeria Entrepreneurs Forum is partnering with OWIT, an active women organisation that focuses on trade and business at the local and international levels as strategy for women empowerment and social recognition.”
In her response, the Minister of State said that Nigerian women entrepreneurs, through their ingenuity had always contributed their quota to national economy and therefore needed to be encouraged.
She reaffirms that Nigerian women formed a very important constituent of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government.
Katagum said that women-owned businesses were allocated 45 per cent and five per cent for those with special needs in the Federal Government’s MSMEs Survival Fund Scheme to cushion the effects of COVID-19 pandemic on their businesses.
“The Federal Government clearly understands the place of women in economic development of our nation and that is why this ministry is doing everything possible to support them.
“Among other initiatives, the Federal Government has also flagged off the N50billion Export Expansion Facility Programme (EEFP) on non-oil export businesses thereby safeguarding jobs and creating new jobs.”
The minister however advised the delegation of the NEF and OWIT to formally write to the ministry indicating areas of possible collaboration and support.
Katagum therefore urged woman entrepreneurs to embrace ICT to enable them effectively participate in e-trading as necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
– MAY 06, 2021 @ 19:05 GM