The Federal Government said it signed up to the SheTrade International Trade Centre “Call to Action’’ to connect one million women entrepreneurs to the business market by 2020.
The wife of the President, Mrs Aisha Buhari said this on Wednesday in Abuja at the Women in Export stakeholders forum and exhibition.
The theme of the forum is “Achieving Zero Oil Growth Through Women Inclusiveness in Global Export Trade.’’
SheTrades is an ITC initiative that provides buyers across the globe a unique platform to connect with women owned enterprises.
It is a platform that brings together thousands of women owned enterprises to showcase their offering from sectors ranging from agriculture to IT services.
Buhari said the current administration would promote and support women entrepreneurs as its main focused was on diversifying the economy.
“If Nigerian women are given the proper support, they will contribute to the economic growth of the country.
“When a woman gets it right, it mains everything will be done the right way,’’ she said.
In her speech, Hajia Aisha Abubakar, Minister of State, Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, said the platform would enable the country address the challenges faced by women in export.
Abubakar said the platform would play a leading role in accelerating women’s engagement with international markets.
According to her, women needed to be empowered to contribute to the economic growth of the country.
Abubakar cautioned that women should not be pre-judged before they were given any loan to trade adding that they would do better with proper funding.
She charged the women to take advantage of the platform to advance their course in export.
In his welcome address, Mr Olusegun Awolowo, Executive Director, Nigerian Export Promotion Council said research has shown that women are largely the driving force behind the global economy.
Awolowo said women control more than 65 per cent of global consumer spending.
“Globally, women businesses are outperformed in more productive sector as owners often lack adequate access to capital in addition to the myriad of bottlenecks and complications plaguing their businesses, same with Nigerian entrepreneurs,’’ he said.
Awolowo said the ITC Shetrades initiative was the country’s opportunity to accelerate the economic growth through the increased participation of Nigerian women in global trade.
He said such opportunity was long overdue to unlock the potentials of the captive ability of women who dominate the non-oil export sectors such as cocoa, cashew, hides, palm and sugar.
Awolowo said the council has amended its export license application form in order to identify women owned businesses.
He said the council has commissioned a diagnostic field research on export survival strategies for women.
“We found out from the respondents covering prospective, current and previously exporting women that 85 per cent find exporting difficult or ambiguous, 46 per cent have difficulty accessing buyers.
“While 42 per cent complain about lacking access to relevant market information,’’ Awolowo said.
He said from findings, the women needed 73 per cent common facility centres, 77 per cent easier access to finance and 53 per cent stopped exporting all together because of the cost of freighting at the ports.
Awolowo said the country’s future interventions with women owned businesses should be framed around these issues.
Also, Ms Arancha Gonzalez, Executive Director, ITC said women should be given the same opportunity just like their male counterparts.
Gonzalez said there was increasing evidence that women face obstacles in setting up businesses and fewer women-owned businesses than their male folks.
“We want to have the same laws, the same access to finance, the same access to resources, same access to equal pay.
“The country need to have equal access to resources and economic opportunities for women,’’ Gonzalez said.
She urged the women to have self confidence in whatever they do saying “we want Nigeria to bring 100,000 women into international trade by 2020’’.
In a goodwill message, Mr Tony Elumelu, Founder Tony Elumelu Foundation said that advancing women’s equality could add 28 trillion dollars to global gross domestic product (GDP) by 2025.
Elumelu said that women control very little of the world financial currency and remain among the world’s most vulnerable people.
He said investing in women would be the smartest way to go “because when a women does well, her whole family does well.
“And because women put everyone else first, so we now need to put women first’’.