ANWBN Host First Nigeria Women Business Summit
Frustration, fear and confusion. These are word’s that aptly describe the situation of most female entrepreneurs, coping and surviving with the outcome of the COVID-19 in the past few months.
Interestingly, the First Nigeria Women Business Virtual Summit organised by the Association of Nigerian Women Business Network (ANWBN), the Apex Women’s group in the country made up of over 50 women’s association has restored hope and provided new insights,strategies, opportunities as well as innovative ways to mitigate the threats posed by the pandemic to women-owned businesses.
The three days Summit kicked off on Tuesday, 29th October 2020 with a array of Seasoned speakers, Special Guests from Government, private sector, Academia, the international Community, panelists as well as representatives from ANWBNs institutional partner, Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE).
The discussions centered around the theme of the Summit, titled: From Fear to hope: Scaling Women’s Businesses for a Decade of Action.
According to the coalitions National Coordinator, Chief ( Mrs) Anita Nana Okuribido, it is important to set a positive agenda, create a roadmap for women entrepreneurs to mitigate the threats from the pandemic, reposition it members spanning over four million women divided into clusters that include Agroprenuers, manufacturers, industrialists, fashion, textile and garments, Blue Services as well as advocacy groups.
The major highlight for the coalition was the presentation and launch of the revised Women’s National business Agenda (WNBA) by the Minister of Trade , Industry,and Investment, Otunba Niyi Adebayo.
The document which has become a strong advocacy tool for the women focuses on the issues affecting the growth, development as well as hindering the optimal performance of women in different ways.
The extensive research carried by the researcher, Mrs Bimbo Osuchukwu via interviews, survey as well as focused Group discussions identified the five priority issues that hinder women’s performance in business.
Interestingly, all the five Priority issues of ANWBN which include Insecurity, Dilapidated and poor road network, lack of power, Gender Inequality, lack of access to finance are all linked to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Mrs Adenike Ogunlesi, CEO Ruff and Tumble urged women to shift the narrative from gender to competencies. “We should change family values to where people can do things based on competencies not gender. We need to go back to the basics and move out of our comfort zones. Women should rewrite the rules and get key representations.”
On her part,Prof Sarah AnyangAgbor, Commissioner for Education, Youth and Capacity Development, Human resources, Science and Technology of the African Union (AU), advised that it was time to break the barriers limiting Women. ” The 21st Century woman should break the barriers. The theme for the Summit can only be achieved when we involve men,youths, agencies and other stakeholders. We all have a role to play. What we need is transformation, not just to increase the numbers and move beyond the rhetorics.”
She added: ” The way to change the status quo is to have the right finance, wipe off the stereotypes and have a paradigm shift. Training, mentorship, innovation and banks that are gender friendly is the way to go. God has endowed women with a lot of competencies.”
According to Barbara Langley,Director, Centre for Women’s Economic Empowerment, CIPE,Washington DC the Global pandemic poses a lot of challenges for women Entrepreneurs, young girls are dropping out of school, there is under representation in decision making all over the world but women should not be discouraged. The future, she opined was bright with so many opportunities.
Representatives of Women Entrepreneurs from Bangladesh, Jordan, Afghanistan and Papua New Guinea also made presentations sharing their experiences, the opportunities, challenges and how to chart a positive roadmap for the future.
Some of the resolutions arrived at by stakeholders and attendees at the Summit include the need for a Special Intervention Fund for Female Entrepreneurs across the country , that policy makers should implement policies that would change the narratives for women in business as well as a paradigm shift in the way of doing business.
To survive effectively, in the competitive business terrain , female entrepreneurs must convert their challenges to opportunities.
They were admonished to take advantage of the interventions available to access fund , collaborate, network and ensure that they achieve the 35 per cent Affirmative action for women in mainstream politics.
Other recommendations include bridging the Gender gaps with the speedy passage of the Gender and Equal Opportunities Bill, Establishment of Policy om Women’s representation in government and inclusive gender policies as well as monitoring and Implementation of the National Gender Policy with its strategic framework.
To mark the 2020 independence day , ANWBN had a special surprise for all women business owners and female entrepreneurs across the country. It was the unveiling of the International Women Resource Complex and Industrial park which will accommodate offices, hallls, incubator facilities and more.
Other highlights from the Summit was the introduction of the Women’s Economic Empowerment Fund (WEEF) to provide funding for women at single digit interest rates.
The Summit ended on a high note with an award ceremony given in recognition of the enormous contributions of the awardees to entrepreneurship, Women’s development and dedication to uplifting womanhood.
The awardees include Iyalode Chief Mrs. Alaba Lawson, MFR, FioD, JP., Mrs. Susan Morrice, a geologist, Engineer Mrs. Joana Olu Maduka,, Mrs. Toki Mabogunje, President, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) and Mrs. Yetunde Oladeinde.
There were also post Humous Awards for Chief Mrs. Bisi Ogunleye, founder, Country Women’s Organisation of Nigeria (COWAN), Barrister.Mrs. Bisi Olateru Olagegi, founder Women’s Consortium of Nigeria (WOCON) and Oluwatosin Sarah Godswill Abasiubong.