No doubt, Nigeria’s economy is in a recession. What with the dwindling global oil prices, the activities of militants in the Niger Delta, the herdsmen-farmers clashes as well as the activities of sea pirates? These have continued to exert a lot of negative strain on the nation’s economy.
It was as a result of this that the Nigerian Export Promotion Council, NEPC, a federal government agency for the promotion of non-oil exports and the International Trade Centre, ITC recently organized what was perhaps Nigeria’s First Women in Export Stakeholders’ Roundtable and Exhibition.
The event was specifically designed to sensitize the Nigerian woman on the need to join trade.
The roundtable which had the wife of the president, Mrs Aisha Buhari as its special guest had as its theme ‘Achieving Zero Oil Growth through Women Inclusiveness in Global Export Trade’.
The event was staged in partnership with the International Trade Centre’s commitment to enable one million women venture into trading and mobilizing women to market, and incurring services from women.
Mrs Buhari in her keynote address, expressed full support for the initiative, increasing the Nigerians target from 100, 000 to 200,000 out of the 1million people targeted by the scheme.
She said, “when a woman gets it right consider everything done”.
Mrs Buhari promised to persuade the federal government to make favorable public procurement policies for 20 percent of women in trade.
Business tycoon and philanthropist Dr. Tony Elumelu who graced the event pledged to ensure gender parity in the disbursement of the Tony Elumelu Foundation Fund.
“Women put everyone else first, If women succeed, the entire continent succeeds. On behalf of the Elumelu Foundation, we shall promote and create sufficient awareness and make sure they change the statistics of the Elumelu fund to 50-50 ratio male and female”, he pledged.
Managing Director/CEO Stanbic IBTC Bank, Sola David Borha gave her support to the scheme assuring of her bank’s commitment to rendering financial assistance to the scheme. She said: “Stanbic IBTC is committed to ensuring access to finance as well as financial advisory council for women to succeed, as a non-interest window banking plan to finance women in export and trade in collaboration with Google”.
Dr Stella Okoli, a Nigerian pharmacist and entrepreneur, who was also present at the event, called for immediate action, saying that 1,000,000 people which were initially programmed for the scheme can be increased to 5,000,000 people with the aide of the digital age.
“Women should know what is happening through digitization. Women should make Nigeria proud, Nigerian women are very hardworking. In the pharmaceutical industry, I urge more women to join the chemical and engineering industry”, she advised.
She later called on women to focus on other areas. “They shouldn’t restrict themselves to one thing”.
Mrs Arancha Gonzalez, Executive Director International Trade Centre, also applauded NEPC efforts towards launching the ‘SheTrade’ in Nigeria. She called for gender equality for women in sectors such as Mining and Engineering.
The wife of the Vice President also voiced her support for the scheme as she believes with the support of present government it is possible for women support in business. She called for a speedy implementation of the she-trades concept.
A letter of intent was later signed for the call to action of SheTrade by the MD/CEO of NEPC, Mr Olusegun Awolowo and Arancha Gonzalez. Tony Elumelu also signed a partnership with ITC, which would create more opportunities for more women in business.