The GAIN Entrepreneurship MasterClass for Women in Nigeria included a selection of 200 female-owned businesses participating in the program.
Chinwe Okoli, the Executive Director of GAIN
Organised by the Development Bank of Nigeria (DBN), the GAIN Entrepreneurship MasterClass for Women in Nigeria began with a welcome address given by Chinwe Okoli, the Executive Director of GAIN.
According to Okoli, the program was born out of the need to encourage women entrepreneurs in Nigeria, and is designed to equip these women with knowledge to build, grow, attain excellent business positions and expand their businesses to attract more revenue and great jobs.
Available statistics on the employment rate of women in Nigeria is attached to about 52%, compared to men, this is high. Women also constitute about 60% of the poorest people in Nigeria according to IMF, and this means that 52 million women are experiencing extreme poverty. “So part of this initiative’s job is to help improve this.”
“On the bright side, a report by PwC, 2020 showed that the entrepreneurial spirit of women is increasing tremendously.”
But then, in most developing countries, lots of people just become entrepreneurs to make ends meet. ‘Some entrepreneurs mostly study our businesses because they have no other source of income and consequently, despite the high level of female entrepreneurs relative to most countries, there are still challenges and barriers that limit women from scaling up their businesses.
“I’m sure, if you look around you, you will see a lot of micro-businesses run by women but the big ones are mostly run by men. So, these are all part of what this program is trying to solve.
It will take 100 years for Nigeria to actually close the gender gap but we want to shorten that time frame, that’s why we are empowering women right now.”
Ijeoma Ozulumba, Executive Director, Development Bank of Nigeria PLC
According to Ijeoma Ozulumba, Executive Director, Development Bank of Nigeria PLC, the Bank believes in empowering capacity building and one way it shows this is through investment by providing access to finance for women.
“Women typically don’t get the support that they should and that’s the kind of gap DBN is trying to bridge. Over the years, we have provided about N68 billion worth of loans to women and in terms of numbers, about 156,000 women have benefitted from DBM funding and have used that to scale.
But these numbers are considerably less than that of men. “We already know that when women have access to funding, there is much more impact, especially socio-economic impact and you can see the impact of women having financial empowerment on their families in health, education, housing, etc.
The average loan size I mentioned is so small compared to that of men and this is because women are largely into small businesses. So you have four categories — micro, small, medium and small corporates. Their sizes are considerably less and in partnering with GAIN, that’s the gap we are trying to bridge.
We want participants to scale up their businesses and also increase their profitability because the bigger most times, the more profitable and the more able to withstand shocks and be resilient.”
The Role of Female Entrepreneurs in the Economic Development of Nigeria
Hansatu Adegbite, Executive Director, WimBiz
Lots of women feel their problem is access to funding but you realise that even when the funding is available, the access is not easily presented to them.
How the business is structured is one important factor. “Some businesses are structured in ways that are not sustainable and it’s very difficult for you.”
What we have come to realise is that the problems of some women are traditional/spiritual aspects because when you tell them to borrow funds for their businesses they would say ‘they shall never borrow’ but they keep on struggling.
In a Global Gender Gap Report, out of 156 countries, Nigeria was 128 in 2020 but has gone down to 139.
Quite alright, women are doing things to feed their families but in terms of millionaires or billionaires, the few you’d find don’t have the attention so people don’t start questioning or doubting how they make their money.
Statistically, 7 out of every 10 women are unemployed, meaning just 3 are actively employed. Women need to realise that so many lives depend on them and when there’s an opportunity, it should be taken very seriously because it could be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
The economic costs that we are losing just by gender gap is $9.3 billion and with the rate at which the dollar is increasing, converting that to naira, you realise what Nigeria is ignoring is huge.
Some women in the informal sector have trained their children to the university level despite their financial status.
It is one thing to have what you can give and it’s another thing to have the right container. You must understand that your business is not about you or your private account; you must get to a place where you understand structure and discipline.
You need to sit down to critically analyse your environment and ask yourself; what problem do I want to solve? How do I surpass it? How far am I willing to go on?
We can’t afford to be too traditional about thinking because of the way the world is moving, this is the time to get skills you don’t have and the internet has made it easy.
Place your business in the right structure. You need to understand financial management, customer service and others. Even if you don’t understand them, leverage on the people that can help you.
People say they can afford to employ such people but one of the fastest ways to get assistance for free is through volunteering. Identify and join a network that is relevant to you. You will find people with the skill sets you need, build relationships and then ask for help.