The Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) and the International Trade Center (ITC) have entered into partnership to launch SheTrades Commonwealth Project (SCP) Nigerian chapter, in order to enhance the capacity of women to contribute significantly to national economy.
SCP aims to drive increased trade, productivity and competitiveness for women entrepreneurs and women owned companies to ensure they play an important role in international trade. It is part of the ITC’s global SheTrades initiative to create an ecosystem of integrated solutions that empower women economically through greater integration in trade and investment with a goal to strengthen the capacities of over 3,000 women-owned businesses while also generating sales worth £28 million by 2020.
Speaking at the SCP implementation workshop in Lagos, Executive Director/CEO of NEPC, Mr. Olusegun Awolowo, said that the initiative was on integrating women into the economic fabric of Nigeria through connecting them to global trade.
Awolowo said the partnership intends to correct the gender disparity that prevails when it comes to accessing resources for business start-ups and expansion as women entrepreneurs face challenges in getting credit and loans while their businesses have fewer employees and shorter business longevity.
He said: “Over the years, there has been international discourse on the need to mainstream women in economic activities to curtail dysfunction that could degrade family incomes and wellbeing. It has also been argued that women’s contributions to the national economic building are hardly noticed since they are prevalent in the less productive sectors and are largely invisible in the global supply chain.”
Awolowo further observed that in Nigeria, women supply approximately 70 per cent of agricultural labour, 50 per cent of animal husbandry related activities and 60 per cent of food processing, yet they have access to only 20 per cent of available agricultural resources.
The initiative was officially launched in April and is funded by United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID) and endorsed by UK Prime Minister, Theresa May during the opening of the Commonwealth Business Forum in London.
Senior Programme Officer at ITC’s Women and Trade Programme office, Mr. Nicholas Schlaepfer, said the programme will ensure that women entrepreneurs in Nigeria receive support tailored to their specific needs, allowing them to propel their existing market representation and secure greater access to global trade.
SheTrades Initiative aims to connect one million women to market by 2020 and rallies stakeholders around the world to work together on seven actions to address trade barriers, create greater opportunities for women entrepreneurs and will be implemented by ITC over two years from April 2018 to March 2020.