Leading African businessman and philanthropist, Tony O. Elumelu CON joined: the First Lady of Nigeria, Mrs. Aisha Buhari, wife of the Vice President of Nigeria, Mrs. Dolapo Osinbajo, Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) CEO, Segun Awolowo andExecutive Director of the International Trade Centre (ITC) Ms. Arancha Gonzalez at The Women in Export Stakeholders Forum and Exhibition in Abuja.
Themed ‘Achieving Zero Oil Growth Through Women Inclusiveness in Global Export Trade’ this year’s event, organised by the NEPC and the ITC, sought to increase the economic empowerment of women through trade via the ITC’s SheTrades Initiative. The goal of this initiative is to connect one million women to the international market by 2020.
Keynote addresses at the Forum were delivered by the First Lady, Mrs. Aisha Buhari and Ms. Arancha Gonzalez. In her opening remarks, Mrs. Buhari boldy called on the public sector to support women saying, “I would like to lead a call to the Federal Government to assign 20% of public procurement to women-owned businesses."
Mr. Elumelu, Chairman of Heirs Holdings, United Bank for Africa and Transcorp Plc stated that the capacity of women in the private sector to contribute to the development of the country is underestimated, pointing to the significant value created by female beneficiaries of the $100 million Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme (TEEP).
"Africa is in need of economic and social development and investing in women is one of the smartest ways to go about it. It is for this reason that the SDGs have focused on women empowerment as a necessary commitment in alleviating poverty," said Mr. Elumelu as he addressed the audience made up primarily of women from diverse backgrounds.
"When a woman does well, her entire family does well. We need to put women first. I am proud to say that full and equal participation of women is an important internal objective of the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme."
Representing the private sector, Elumelu was joined by Mrs. Buhari and Mrs. Osibanjo, where he signed a Call-To-Action through partnership with The Tony Elumelu Foundation and Africa’s global bank, UBA, to achieve the following:
· Drive up the statistics of female participation in the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme from 70:30 (male/female) representation in 2016 to 60:40 in 2017 and 50:50 by the year 2020.
· Commission the production of in-depth research publications and case studies focused on solutions to unique challenges facing women entrepreneurs.
Other dignitaries present at the forum include Senator Aisha Alhassan, Honourable Minister of Women Affairs and Ms Aisha Abubakar, Honourable Minister of State, Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment.