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Connecting women entrepreneurs to the global market

The plan to connect 200,000 women entrepreneurs to the global market through the She Trades Initiative is welcome. As part of the initiative, the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) in collaboration with the International Trade Council (ITC) based in Geneva, Switzerland, has initiated action to train 15,000 women entrepreneurs in the country. 

We are happy about this plan to put women’s economic issues on the front burner of national and global discourse. The effort is part of the United Nations plan launched in July 2016 to connect 1,000,000 women to the global market by 2020. That deadline is only three years from now, and we are satisfied that 15,000 of our women will be captured in the initial roll out.

It is a moot point now that when women are empowered, the entire nation is empowered. Such is the overall significance of the female population in any given society that undermining matters concerning them amounts to a disservice to the entire society. Women, to a very large extent, develop the family and determine the condition of their families and societies, for good or bad.  For too long, our womenfolk have borne the brunt of the socio-economic problems of their countries. Those were the times when men did not know better. Now, things are changing for the better.

This empowerment envisaged for our women would go a long way in positively projecting the female folk who constitute a half of our entire population. The 15,000 Nigerian women targeted constitute 13.3 per cent of the 200,000 women entrepreneurs to be connected to the global market through the She Trades Initiative. This is commendable, because our women need all the support they can get to boost their businesses. The country’s current economic challenges call for such special interventions to help our women surmount the problems militating against the expansion of their businesses.

This planned empowerment programme will boost the participants’ confidence and their ability to operate in the global market. It will also broaden their vision and open their eyes to the benefits of international business. It will help them to spread their wings and boost the profile of our women on the international scene.

Although there are a few other initiatives that are targeted at empowering female entrepreneurs in the country, we urge our womenfolk to embrace this one wholeheartedly to boost their chances of building their businesses into global brands. This is a genuine aspiration that deserves the support of all the relevant government agencies. We commend the NEPC for the initiative and urge it to search out more of such collaborative global initiatives, even as it designs local empowerment schemes for our women. We believe that more of such opportunities will come up in the future, so our women should brace up and take full advantage of them.

As a corollary, we enjoin other agencies of government and our international partners to design similar programmes to boost the economic status of our women. The world has, indeed, become a global village, so we must embrace investments in human capital development which will pay great dividends in the future.

In the meantime, we call on those saddled with the responsibility of selecting beneficiaries of the programme to be careful in discharging this important task. They should ensure that only genuine women entrepreneurs who meet the stipulated guidelines are enrolled for the programme. The possibility of ignoring these parameters exists and may have, indeed, undermined similar well-conceived programmes in the past. Political pressures and economic hardship are real, especially in Africa. 

Everything that is necessary must be done to manage them so that they do not destroy or undermine this laudable initiative.   

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