The Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) has disclosed that a Federal Government-backed initiative on women export, known as SheTrades Initiative, has generated $9 million of business leads since it was launched in 2016.
Speaking at the SheTrades Public Dialogue held in Abuja recently on Promoting Women Economic Empowerment and Public Procurement in Nigeria, the Executive Director of NEPC, Mr Olusegun Awolowo, said the initiative had also connected 190 female-led businesses to international buyers through support at international trade fairs, in country business linkage events, and through partnership with large private sector companies.
The NEPC boss, represented by the Council’s Director of Policy and Strategy, Evelyn Obidike, said the Initiative was conceived because women economic empowerment is crucial to economic growth and development, especially in emerging economies like Nigeria.
“Women economic empowerment is crucial to economic growth and development, especially in emerging economies like Nigeria.
When women are economically empowered, they contribute significantly to employment generation, poverty reduction and increases in the standard of living,” he said.
NEPC and the ITC launched the SheTrades initiative in 2016 and the SheTrades in Commonwealth project in 2018 to empower women economically through greater participation in global trade and investment in Nigeria.
Awolowo said the aim was to connect 200,000 women owned businesses in Nigeria to international markets as part of the broader UN – Goal of connecting 3 million women by 2021.
The Minister of State Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, Ambassador Mariam Yalwaji Katagum, told participants at the dialogue that statistics indicate that advancing women’s equality could add $28 trillion to global GDP by 2025, thus enabling economies to unlock their full potentials.
The Minister represented by the Deputy Director in charge of the Gender Desk at the Ministry, Chioma Fidel, said women entrepreneurs face disproportionate and complex barriers to accessing equal economic opportunities such as legal and regulatory hurdles to sociocultural norms and gender biases.
Katagum said women own or manage only one in five exporting firms even though they own an estimated 38 per cent of all small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs).
The dialogue was organised by the International Trade Centre (ITC), Geneva, Switzerland in collaboration with the NEPC.