The Lagos State Government has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with African Women Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum (AWIEF) expected to facilitate the process of ensuring that women entrepreneurs have access to $300 million fund to boost their businesses.
The Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget, Mr. Akinyemi Ashade unveiled the plan at a news conference he addressed at the state secretariat, Alausa alongside the Founder of AWIEF, Mrs. Irene Ochem.
Speaking at the conference, Ashade said the $300 million “is a women’s Economic Empowerment Fund set aside by African Development Bank (AfDB) for empowering African women.”
Ashade said Lagos Women Economic Empowerment Initiative (LAGOSWEEIN) “is an initiative designed for the women of Lagos state for the purpose of ensuring entrepreneurial capacity building, business skills upgrade and preparedness as well as to facilitate access to finance and other services within the framework of affirmative Finance Action.
“Today’s signing of partnership agreement is a milestone between Lagos State and AWIEF and all women in the state. This partnership is reaching a major step in line with Governor Ambode agenda for women in the state, towards their strategic economic empowerment.
He explained that the other partnership highlights include training, business coaching and technology transfer of the women through a detailed standard operating procedure.
He assured stakeholders that the state government will honour its own part of the agreement, which is to pay as and when due invoices presented by AWIEF based on a mutually-agreed budget.
He said exploring the collaborative opportunity in the state “to derive maximum benefits for women-owned businesses is indeed a great opportunity for the entire state as it guarantees business and social development, financial freedom for Lagos women among many others.
Also at the forum, Ochem commended the state government “for partnering her organisation in empowering women. The biggest challenge women entrepreneur face is access to fund, which also informed why AFDB came up with opportunities for women to have access to finance.
She acknowledged that her organisation “is very passionate about women empowerment and partnering Lagos with the largest business women is a worthy one.”
Ochem pointed out that the fund is for every business women with no restriction of sectors, adding that the partnership is important as it would be about training and capacity building.
On her part, Chief Executive Officer of Rhoda Michaels Fashion Academy, Mrs. Agbeyo Rhoda, expressed concerns about the large number of creative youths in Nigeria yet to put their talents into good use.
She urged all the students “to be part of the initiative. If all can be part of this, it will in no doubt grow the economy of this country.”