Cherie Blair, wife of former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair.

Obinna Chima

A total of 250 business women on Tuesday graduated from Cherie Blair Foundation for Women’s ‘Road to Women’s Business Growth’ project.
The foundation was set up by Cherie Blair, wife of former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair.

The project, which is a partnership between the Foundation, the Enterprise Development Centre (EDC) of the Lagos Business and the ExxonMobil Foundation is basically to help develop entrepreneurial skills among women to enable them grow their businesses.

The ‘Road to Women’s Business Growth’ project also aims to inspire women owners of small businesses in Nigeria by building their management and financial literacy skills.

The event was part of activities to mark International Women’s Day, took place in Lagos.

According to Blair, women entrepreneurs play a powerful role in their societies and economies, often succeeding against huge odds.

“My Foundation is committed to supporting women in developing and emerging markets to access the skills, networks, technology and financial services they need to establish and grow successful businesses. Our Road to Women’s Business Growth initiative will empower Nigerian women entrepreneurs to unlock the skills and tools they need to drive growth in their businesses and communities,” she added.

Women entrepreneurs worldwide face significant barriers to accessing financial services. Research had shown that women-owned entities represent more than 30 per cent of registered businesses globally, but only 10 per cent of women entrepreneurs have access to the capital needed to grow their businesses.

According to the promoters, the project aims to address this gap by building the business management and financial literacy skills of women
entrepreneurs, empowering them with the knowledge and tools they need to grow profitable and sustainable businesses.

The Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, who was represented by her Personal Assistant, Dami Adesanya, said the federal government would continue to implement policies that would bring about inclusive growth in the country.

Adeosun also pointed out that education remains key in accelerating women businesses in the country, adding that women should be encouraged to embrace technology.

“Secondly, access to finance needs to improve. This is one of the tough challenges facing businesses in general and there are peculiar factors that make it more difficult for women. For example, women tend to be less confidence than men in presenting their business to potential financiers. But this does not mean that their businesses are any less viable.

“We need to educate and empower women on the capital raising process, while also ensure that there is due process and unbiased against women. Women entrepreneurs need to be adequately trained or coached on investments. It is a fact that women tend to be more prudent than men when it comes to financial matters,” she added.

Adeosun also noted that the rate of loan default among women had been found to be very low, compared to men, adding that access to market is also a major key driver.

She pointed out that e-commerce in Nigeria is increasingly becoming a major tool globally, just as she urged female entrepreneurs to leverage on e-commerce opportunities.