The Federal Government of Nigeria has urged banks to be more inclusive of women in their lending schemes

A conference themed, “Positioning African Women for the Next Big Opportunity in the Regional and Global Marketplace,” was held in Abuja, on Wednesday 28th, to discuss women’s inclusion in contributing to the nation’s economy.

The key topic examined during the conference was how to make funds available to businesswomen. During the conference in Abuja, Mariam Katagum, Minister of State for Trade and Investment, noted that companies have to invest directly in women by integrating gender policies and practices with global diversity.

She also elaborated on how the potential for female-owned businesses has been unlocked under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

“With the launch of trading under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) in January 2021, the expectations are high as relates to the expanded business prospects for women-led businesses, which will unlock the potential for African women to grow their businesses from micro to macro enterprises,” she said.

She continued, specifying the roles banks can play to ensure the potential for women-led businesses is maximized, and how sensitization is a powerful tool to grow female-owned businesses.

“Banks should set up gender desks to go the extra mile in identifying and prioritizing targets of potential women borrowers as a platform for ascertaining and providing financial empowerment from African Development Bank to support women-led Farmers Based Associations and MSMEs to promote agriculture in certain African countries.

Greater efforts need to be made to provide women with access to technical education and on-the-job training. Targeted entrepreneurship training can help female entrepreneurs grasp open markets’ opportunities and calibrate their businesses toward those opportunities through creativity and innovation.”

Blessing Iragbor, President of Owit, during her keynote speech at the event noted that the Nigerian government needs to adequately capture and reflect women’s trading activities in national accounting systems and regional statistical databases.

Director-General, Nigeria office for trade negotiations, Yonov Agah, noted that women are a central part of trade both in Nigeria and international markets.

He went on to reveal that women represent 60% of cross-border movements and 70% of small enterprises.

“The involvement of women in trade cannot be overemphasized. Currently, women represent about 70% of SMEs in Nigeria, which are important for economic growth. Hey said.

“The AfCFTA has protocols that relate to women and youths in trade. And this will ensure that the voices of women are heard,” he added.

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