With a target to connect 200,000 women entrepreneurs in the global market through the SheTrades initiative, the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) in collaboration with the International Trade Centre (ITC), Geneva has begun plans to train 15,000 women entrepreneurs in Nigeria.The initiative was launched in July 2016 as part of the United Nations’ goal of connecting one million women to the market by 2020.
At a stakeholders’ workshop on the implementation of the SheTrades initiative in Lagos yesterday, the Executive Director, NEPC, Olusegun Awolowo who spoke on “Promoting trade for women entrepreneurs”, noted that to achieve the required level of success, the council in partnership with ITC brought together women entrepreneurs to increase their awareness on the SheTrades platform, improving their visibility and the use of trade intelligence as well as strengthening Trade and Investment Support Institutions (TISIs) to enhance policies for the benefit of exporting entrepreneurs .
Represented by the Director, Export Development and Incentives, George Enyiekpon, Awolowo noted that the forum was targeted at non-oil export stakeholders with a view to creating a platform for deeper engagement on advancing non-oil export activities, economic diversification and growth.
“The ITC SheTrades initiative is our opportunity to accelerate our economic growth through increased participation of Nigerian women in global trade. Such an opportunity is overdue to unlock the potential of the captive ability of our women who dominate our non-oil export sectors.”
He stated that the zero oil plan initiative which is a component of the National Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) of the federal government, seeks to diversify the economy by enhancing the competitiveness and capacity of women participating in some product clusters such as Hibiscus, Sesame seed, Cotton, Moringa.
Awolowo said: “We must join other countries by working together to boldly make women business enterprises a significant contributor to the country’s economy and revenue.”
Impressed with the response of Nigerian women entrepreneurs, a representative of the ITC, Partnerships on empowering women to trade, Anna Mori who gave some highlights from benefitting from the initiative, said the aim of the partnership between both countries is to connect women entrepreneurs to market and also increase the competitiveness of these women entrepreneurs and quality of their products and services.
On access to finance which is a major problem for entrepreneurs, Mori said: “We noticed it’s a problem in Nigeria for women entrepreneurs to grow up their businesses. What we are trying to do is to bring up the partners with financial institutions such as banks like Access bank; NEXIM bank and the CBN and we come up with a work plan activity until 2020 and see what these partners can bring to the table.
“I didn’t want to see all the new credit lines along set aside for women entrepreneurs. What they need is to learn is which documents they need to bring when they are getting a loan from the bank, how to create a strong business clime that will be bankable by financial and commercial banks.”
The adviser, inclusive and sustainable value chains, ITC, Joan Hoyos said: “What we want is to connect women to the buyers. We also need buyers to connect to the platform. The products are completely open, we don’t select any sector. We want more in Agribusiness, IT, tourism. We are not limited to any sector.”