Women in Nigeria have been urged to play a more active role in stimulating the growth of businesses and development.
The President/Chief Executive Officer, Global Fund for Women (GFW), Latanya Mapp Frett, gave the advice at the fourth Women FinancingWomen (WFW) Group meeting hosted by First City Monument Bank (FCMB) and SME.NG, Nigeria’s SME Impact Investment Platform, in Lagos.
According to Frett, the absence of women in key leadership positions has limited the ability and capacity of women-owned businesses, including Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs), to secure the support to ensure their success.
Frett, who was the guest speaker, stated: “The inability of women to reach the very top of leadership positions is a limitation to reach our goals.
These include long term opportunities to influence the attainment of international sustainability targets in a manner that would impact positively on the well-being of women and their endeavours, especially in the area of business and other socio-economic activities.”
Also, the Executive Director, Business Development FCMB, Mrs. Bukola Smith, stated that FCMB has been supporting businesses for years and has been very deliberate for women-owned SMEs.
This includes the setting up of women in business proposition, known as SheVentures, to meet the various needs of women entrepreneurs, she said.
“SheVentures is a brand for FCMB’s Women in Business proposition, which provides financial and business support to women owned businesses enabling them to unlock potential, scale up and build sustainable businesses with significant impact on the economy,” she explained.
creation of a feminist funding model, under which GFW works with a network of partners to ensure that women can fund the business of other women through grants of between $10,000 and $100,000 for a period of three years.
In addition, she disclosed that the Fund is in partnership with the United Nations and other multilateral organisations to sustain girls’ education following the COVID-19 pandemic, while also initiating a crisis fund for the pandemic.
She added that the funds are used to provide relief items, health services and other essentials across communities.
Ms. Frett urged financial institutions to, “focus on the overall social impact beyond their funding to businesses by determining which ones with limited resources they can continue to fund and have multiplier effect in this critical period”.
The Managing Partner for SME.NG, Ms.Thelma Ekiyor, said the organisation, in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Nigeria Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), conducted a “National Survey on the Impact of COVID-19 on Women-owned Businesses”.
Women Entrepreneurs at the meeting gave testimonies about their experiences on the effects of COVID-19 on their businesses.
Notable among the achievements recorded is an increase in the number of jobs created, an indication that their respective businesses are growing in a sustainable manner.
The participants also advised that women entrepreneurs should tap into and harness the benefits of e-commerce and all other forms of business digitisation.