Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC)
A significant barrier for women entrepreneurs in Nigeria who find it difficult to access business support services, establish contacts, and obtain information has been lowered with the launch of a directory of business support organisations (BSOs).
The online BSO Directory for women-owned businesses in Nigeria has been launched by the International Trade Centre (ITC) as part of its SheTrades Commonwealth project, which is funded by the United Kingdom’s Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office (FCDO).
“Today we are focusing on partnership for better integration of women into the economic fabric of Nigeria through connecting them to global trade, ”Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) Executive Director/CEO, Olusegun Awolowo said.
“Women are the backbone of practically all economies, especially the informal economy. Therefore we must join other countries by working together to boldly make women business enterprises a significant contributor to the country’s economy and revenue,” he said.
The BSO Directory, produced by NEPC in partnership with ITC, presents a profile of existing BSOs for women in export sub-sectors in Nigeria.
“It also provides a plethora of opportunities for women-owned businesses to contact BSOs and use their services in non-oil export transactions, ”Deputy Director of Export Development and Incentives,”Esther Ikporah said.
“The launch of this directory is an important step towards bridging the gap between BSOs and women-owned businesses. The NEPC encourages businesses to tap into opportunities brought by the directory,” she said.
NEPC Director of Policy and Strategy Ifeyinwa Evelyn Obidike said: “In tandem with mandate of NEPC and in demonstration of the council’s commitment to women’s empowerment and inclusiveness in non-oil exports, the directory is a significant milestone and a paradigm shift towards bridging the information, experience and exposure gaps inhibiting women-owned businesses in their internationalisation efforts. The NEPC is optimistic that the BSO Directory will fulfil its core purpose of linking Nigerian women-owned businesses to the BSOs.”
In addition to being a one-stop catalogue to access key profiles and relevant BSO contact information, the BSO Directory provides information on capacity building, business generation, funding, and advisory opportunities available to women-owned businesses in Nigeria.
The website also includes a dedicated COVID-19 section that offers trusted information on various institutional initiatives and services open to women-owned businesses.
Engagement with BSOs is a crucial channel through which the SheTrades Commonwealth project aims to help develop a more gender-inclusive business ecosystem in Nigeria.
The project has delivered numerous online training courses, workshops and coaching to BSOs in Nigeria to promote more inclusive service portfolios for women-owned businesses since the launch of the SheTrades Commonwealth project in 2018.
SheTrades Commonwealth has launched BSO Directories in Bangladesh, in partnership with SME Foundation, and in Ghana, in partnership with the National Board of Small Scale Industries (NBSSI) in the past few months.
SheTrades Commonwealth works closely with BSOs across Bangladesh, Ghana, Kenya, and Nigeria on pandemic response measures. It has developed a COVID-19 Crisis Management Toolkit that provides women-owned businesses with resources to assess the impact of the crisis and (re-)design their business models for greater resilience.
In November 2020, the project also organised a virtual gathering, Sharing for Success – A Virtual Gathering for Business Support Organisations to facilitate the sharing of best practices and lessons learned from managing the COVID-19 crisis.
The event helped reinforce BSOs’ capacity to support women-owned businesses and the private sector during and after the pandemic. More than 100 BSOs from over 25 Commonwealth countries participated in the week-long event.