On the International Women’s Day, which took place on Wednesday, 8th 2017, WeConnect International, a global network that connects women-owned businesses to qualified buyers around the world, organised its second edition of the Women in Nigeria Conference and Exhibition.

The hall of the event was full to capacity with women from different walks of life listening to the speakers who came to share from their bank of knowledge and experience. Some of the speakers present at the events were Folorunsho Alakija, Executive Vice Chairman, Famfa Oil Limited and Judith Mbonu, Operations Procurement Manager, ExxonMobil Nigeria.

Nancy Swartout, Global Sustainable Procurement Manage, Exxon Mobil during her presentation said “ExxonMobil spent $33 million on its Global Supplier Programme outside the United States in 2016, which exceeded its target of $25 million. In Nigeria alone, $24 million business volume was achieved with women-owned organisations representing 74 percent of the total spend.”

“When women move forward, the world moves with them. When they control their income, they usually invest in the health, education, and wellbeing of their families and communities. This is where ExxonMobil’s strong belief for Women Economic Empowerment stems from,” said Judith Mbonu.

This year’s event presented another opportunity for WEConnect Certified Women Business Enterprises and current or potential suppliers to ExxonMobil to understand how to interact and do business with multinational companies like ExxonMobil.

Highlights from the event

Judith Mbonu, who spoke on marketplace and opportunities, said that there are several opportunities for women to tap into in Nigeria in order to help boost their businesses. Multinational companies like Exxon Mobil look out for a lot before they can provide assistance, which includes the person understanding of what it takes to compete, understanding of the business and the business’ viability.

Judith further advised “If you don’t eliminate the wastages in your system your business will wind up and when you go into a business you don’t take so many resources that you don’t want.

The Executive Vice Chairperson, Famfa Oil Limited, Folorunsho Alakija, who delivered the keynote speech at the event spoke on the theme “Bold Steps for Big Change.”

Below are some inspiring quotes from Folorunsho Alakija:

  • “There is compelling evidence that women can be agents of economic change.”
  • “As women, we have to take the bull by the horn and make the change happen by ourselves.”
  • “As women, you need to go out there and fight for what you need to get and get where you want to be.”
  • “Women need to be giving the opportunities to tap into their talents, and energy is being wasted on a daily basis.”
  • “We complement the men and should be seen as value-adding.”
  • “The world economy is now in such a way that the men cannot do it on their own, we need bold women to step it up and take their rightful place.”

“What would it take for you to take that bold step as women?” Folorunsho Alakija asks.

  1. You need to decide what you want to achieve.
  2. You need to believe in your dream.
  3. Get rid of naysayers- those who say to you that you can’t do it.
  4. Don’t give up when things get tough, just hang in there, stay focused and be patient.
  5. Don’t think that anything can happen overnights.
  6. We have grown passed the stage of fairytales this is reality.
  7. Never allow anyone to tell you it can’t be done.
  8. In my dictionary, ‘can’t’ doesn’t exist.
  9. As women, we have one common front and that is to succeed.

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