The Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) in collaboration with the International Trade Center (ITC) has entered into partnership to launch “SheTrade Commonwealth Project” (SCP), Nigerian chapter, in order to make women significant contributors to Nigeria’s economy.
The Executive Director of NEPC, Mr. Olusegun Awolowo, who made this known at the SCP implementation workshop in Lagos, explained 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.
“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,” he explained.
He observed that in Nigeria, women supply approximately 70 percent of agricultural labour, 50 percent of animal husbandry related activities and 60 per cent of food processing, yet they have access to only 20 percent of available agricultural resources.
Awolowo said that 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.
The Senior Programme Officer at ITC’s Women and Trade Programme office, Mr. Nicholas Schlaepfer, said that the programme would ensure that women entrepreneurs in Nigeria received support tailored to their specific needs allowing them to propel their existing market representation and secure greater access to global trade.