NEXIM Shifts Focus to Women, Youths, SMEs with N10bn Seed Fund

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The Nigerian Export-Import Bank (NEXIM) has shifted its support to women and youth exporters with a seed fund of N10 billion under a new programme coined ‘Women and Youth Export Facility (WAYEF)’.

The bank also announced a partnership with Afreximbank under which $50 million Project Preparation Fund (PPF) would be mobilised for Nigeria.

The objective of the PPF, it said, is to provide technical assistance to small and medium enterprises (SMEs), including those promoted by women and youths towards presenting bankable proposals thereby improving their access to funds.

The Managing Director/Chief Eexecutive Officer of NEXIM Bank, Abubakar Abba Bello, made the revelations in Abuja on March 30, 2021, at the launch of WAYEF.

In his address during the programme, Bello said the launch of the facility was in commemoration of the 2021 International Women’s Day, which is celebrated globally on March 8, adding that WAYEF would increase women and youths’ participation in the global export market.

The event also featured a capacity building session on the theme: ‘Unlocking Export Market Opportunities for Women and Youth’, where women and youths, who were engaged in profitable export businesses were invited to share their experiences as a source of inspiration and encouragement to others.

Bello explained that the bank has provided enormous support for many export-oriented industries that are high employers of women and youths such as cashew, Shea, hibiscus, ginger among others, where a lot of women are involved in cleaning and packaging of the products for export.

He said WAYEF would provide more financial support for women and youth-owned businesses operating in the various aspects of the export value chain under a more dedicated and focused arrangement.

According to him, “WAYEF, however, seeks to do more by supporting women and youth-owned businesses operating in the various aspects of the export value chain under a more dedicated and focused arrangement.”

While discussing the challenges of meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) of gender inequality, he noted that: “In Africa and many developing countries, discrimination against women has its root in age-long cultural practices. This underscores the need for us to redouble our efforts towards addressing such cultural practices and other obnoxious beliefs that have imposed limitations on the female gender.”

Also speaking, the Executive Director of Business Development, Stella Okotete, who ascribed the whole idea of WAYEF to Bello, said part of the reason the women and the youths were not fully playing as aggregators and exporters in the agriculture value-chain was because of the high cost of funds and difficulty in accessing same. To that effect, she said WAYEF is the answer.