Photograph — Nigeria Communications Week

Nigeria’s diversification plan can’t be sustained without the empowerment and deliberate inclusion of women into the business and economic environment. As much as exploring natural resources (agricultural and oil resources) are important, engaging all the potentials and diversities in a country is imperative for inclusive economic growth. Also, studies have shown that the economic prosperity of a state is linked to the number of women empowered to do business.

Yesterday, Facebook unveiled the initiative #SheMeansBusiness for the numerous Nigerian women interested in entrepreneurship. This initiative, which is in collaboration with She Leads Africa, is designed to inspire and train female entrepreneurs across the country to build, grow and start their own businesses.

“We know that when women do better, economies do better,” Facebook Public Policy Director, Africa, Ebele Okobi said.

“The study conducted by Development Economics further highlights this, with research suggesting that an estimated seven million new businesses could be set up by women in Nigeria by 2021– placing a greater importance on the role of women’s entrepreneurial ambitions for overall economic and social development in the country,” she explains.

The Development Economics Study, which was conducted for Facebook, also estimates that businesses set up by women in Nigeria over the next five years (by 2022), hold the key to unlocking N19.7 billion for the economy, with the opportunity of creating a further 8.9 million additional jobs.

This means that for any economic growth plan to be successful, strategies and policies that would enable more women to participate fully in various economic activities in the country is important.

According to the Global Gender Gap Report 2017 by the World Economic Forum (WEF), Nigeria is poorly ranked at 122 out of 144 countries in closing gender gap. The report, which is ranked based on gender-based disparities in different countries particularly in the areas of economic participation, education, health and survival, and political empowerment, closely links the success of economies and societies to the “full development and appropriate deployment” of the female gender.

One of the ways to get more women in involved in business is through equipping them with digital skills. With digital skills and access to the internet, people can indulge their creativity to create products and services for a wider market.

And in a bid to close a little of this gap, #SheMeansBusiness initiative in Nigeria, the first of its kind in Sub Saharan Africa, aims to bring together thousands of female entrepreneurs in a series of day workshops and training sessions across six cities in Nigeria, including Lagos, Kaduna, Port Harcourt, Ibadan, Abuja and Aba.

As part of the launch, a dedicated #SheMeansBusiness website has been created. It features communities women can belong to and inspiring stories from female trailblazers who are following their dreams. There are free digital tools and resources to support and give practical advice needed to grow a business in the digital age.

Afua Osei, the Co-Founder of She Leads Africa, also expressed the need for such partnership with Facebook. “We’re excited to continue our partnership with Facebook to expand access to the digital skills necessary to move African businesses forward. We know that with the right tools and support, African women can compete on a global level and we look forward to taking these critical digital tools to entrepreneurs all across Nigeria.”


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