By Nume Ekeghe
Analysts and business operators have called for cheap and increased access to finance for women in micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in order to stimulate economic growth post Covid-19
The Executive Director of Micro-Enterprises, Bank of Industry, Mrs. Toyin Adeniji; Founder and CEO, Mamamoni, Mrs. Nkem Okocha; Special Adviser, Investment, Trade and Innovation, Ekiti State, Mr. Akin Oyebode; Managing Partner, SME.NG, Ms. Thelma Ekiyor and Academic Director, Lagos Business School (LBS)Prof. Yinka David-West, made this call during a virtual media parley recently.
David-West, noted that various findings had shown that majority of small businesses are women owned, adding that the women mostly contribute to the welfare of their households. Therefore, she stressed the need for enhanced approach to granting cheap finance to these women.
She said: “Over 41 million businesses that are micro businesses in general and with these other people that are under the cash-based economy. They are the most vulnerable and underserved and they are financially excluded because they trade mostly in cash and the category we called under employed and unemployed.
“A lot of them are women and they are in trading general, but we also need to remember that they are active care giver in their home. When we put all these together and we add the financial impact of COVID on this economic sector, we see that financial health and well-being is even more endangered because they are already fragile and vulnerable in the first place.”
On his part, Oyebode said: “There is just an economic reason for supporting women in business especially small businesses. If you look at the NBS data, there is a significant difference between men-led households.
“For me that is primarily because obviously, you want to increase household income and you want as much as possible every adult to be in the house and who is not in school to contribute to the family.
“So, it offers a lot of protection against poverty and offers a lot of economic resilience if we can pit more women in work and in business. For me, access to finance for women is a critical element of improving socio economic standings.”
To Ekiyor, “We need to look at the immediate impact of the Covid-19 on women in businesses across the spectrum. We surveyed 30 states through online platforms.
“When we are talking about the 82 million poor Nigerians amid Covid-19, it is not bad luck to say those numbers increased dramatically and women will be worse hit particularly because many of them that are in this bottom of the pyramid essentially trade or work to eat and that is how they survive. So increased access to finance is important.”