NEPC, ITC Partner to Empower Female in Entrepreneurs

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Jonathan Eze
The Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) has gone into a partnership with the International Trade Center (ITC) to launch the Nigerian chapter of the SheTrade Commonwealth Project (SCP).

The launch was to make women significant contributors to nation’s economy.
The SCP aims to drive increased trade, productivity and competitiveness for women entrepreneurs and women owned companies to ensure they play an important role in international trade.

It is part of the ITC global SheTrades initiative where through intensive training and mentoring activities, the goal is to strengthen the capacities of over 3,000 women-owned businesses with a view to generate sales worth £28 million by 2020.

The Executive Director/CEO of NEPC, Olusegun Awolowo, who was at the SCP implementation workshop in Lagos said the initiative was to integrate women into the economic fabric of Nigeria through connecting them to global trade.

Awolowo said the partnership was intended to correct the gender disparity that prevails when it comes to accessing resources for business start-ups and expansion by women entrepreneurs, saying women face challenges in getting credit and loans while their businesses have fewer employees and shorter business longevity.

He added: “Over the years, there has been international discourse on the need to mainstream women in economic activities to curtail dysfunction that could degrade family incomes and wellbeing.

“It has also been argued that women contributions to the national economic building are hardly noticed since they are prevalent in the less productive sectors and are largely invisible in the global supply chain.”

He observed that in Nigeria, women supply approximately 70 per cent of agricultural labour, 50 per cent of animal husbandry related activities and 60 per cent of food processing, yet they have access to only 20 per cent of available agricultural resources.

The initiative was officially launched in April and funded by United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID) and endorsed by UK Prime Minister, Theresa May during the opening of the Commonwealth Business Forum in London.

Senior Programme Officer at ITC’s Women and Trade Programme office, Nicholas Schlaepfer said the programme would ensure that women entrepreneurs in Nigeria receive support tailored to their specific needs allowing them to propel their existing market representation and secure greater access to global trade.

SheTrades Initiative aims to connect one million women to market by 2020 and rallies stakeholders around the world to work together on seven actions to address trade barriers, create greater opportunities for women entrepreneurs and will be implemented by ITC over two years from April 2018 to March 2020.

ReadyBargains Unveils Online Platform
ReadyBargains online business has launched an online platform to allow Nigerians who love buying foreign products visit various stores while using a single shopping cart and get them delivered to their locations.
“Our goal is to meet the needs of different classes of people looking for good bargains,” Don Okhuofu, chairman, ReadyBargains said during the launch of the platform.

“Customers using our platform have access to shop from different UK and US stores using a single cart and a $10 off cart coupon available to the first basket checked out by every customer.
“The products are delivered to our customers across the country at their door steps of collection points of their choices,” Okhuofu said.

According to him, the stores, one shopping cart unique offering gives users a 10- 15 percent less cost than that of their competitors.
He noted that all users have access to an additional $10 off every purchases of above $100 made from Walmart, Tesco, Carters and Mothercare.

“The risks of getting fake products from our services are remote because users shop directly from the foreign stores themselves. We assure users of quality products because they deal directly with the producers,” he further said.
Speaking on the challenging environment for e-commerce operators in the country, Okhuofu stated that the failure rate of e-commerce business was as a result of their cost/revenue structures.

He noted that most e-commerce businesses have constantly allowed cost to be higher than their generating revenue, leading to the high failure rates.
Okhuofu said ReadyBargains would always seek to match its cost and revenue, and this will ensure sustainability of the business.