Bolstering Women’s Economic Contributory Role for National Development

Bolstering Women’s Economic Contributory Role for National Development

To empower and even bolster the financial independence of women, Crown Flour Mill Limited launched the Crown Flour Angels initiative, an empowerment and gender-upskilling initiative targeted at local women. It seeks to help them acquire baking skills or improve on their current baking skillset while strengthening their capacity to build successful businesses and become successful entrepreneurs, Uzoma Mba reports 

Although still an undergraduate, Ms. Oluwaseun Oluwatosin Samuel’s prospects for the future seemed bleak. The bars for survival are always so high and scary considering her gender and the number of fresh graduates groping under the high rate of unemployment in the country.

Oluwaseun, 27, started learning baking in school as a way of providing a bulwark for the future. This future-proofing strategy didn’t seem to be working out initially. There was no way of learning the top skills that she needed to make satisfactory, competitive cakes that people would be willing to pay for.  Evidently, she didn’t have the right baking equipment either.

She graduated with such a bleak outlook. Her forecast was right. There was no job. Each day would break with a sombre feeling. Uncertainty lingered like sullen skies. She was in this pessimistic, depressed state when she received a call from a friend who informed her about the Crown Flour Angels (CFA) initiative, the women empowerment initiative of Crown Flour Mill (CFM) Limited that trains and equips indigent women to become professional bakers, completely free of charge.

It was too good to be true. But she decided to give it a try. She sent the required email. She filled out the right forms. Eventually, she was invited for an interview. She was selected and placed in one of the accredited training centres in Lagos.

The lady was finally cut loose from her sombre post-graduate experience. She had a project to devote her energy. The new skills she learned in the baking academy stimulated a vision of a better future in her mind. The Bleak prospect of the future faded away like a distant dream.

Presently, the young graduate is a professional baker with outstanding skills in the order of top global bakers. CFM also equipped her with an electronic mixer and bags of flour to start off her entrepreneurial journey during graduation.

Oluwaseun is not alone. About 14 other women, some of whom didn’t even have any formal education to bank their future on have been equipped with income-generating baking skills and National Business & Technical Examinations Board (NABTEB) certificates. They were also exposed to business management skills such as inventorying, prospecting, product development techniques, financial planning, and social media marketing at the baking academy. In sum, they were fully equipped to add value to themselves, their family, their community, and the economy.

Imagine the future of Oluwaseun and the rest of her colleagues without the requisite skills to play an active role in the economy. Imagine the valuable contributions the economy and the family would have locked up unexplored if these women’s precious energy and aspirations were untapped.

The contribution of women to the growth of a nation is receiving attention globally. Expert research reveals that a one per cent increase in women’s contribution to an economy often raises the level of GDP by 58.4 per cent. These explicit data underpin the race across countries to raise the level of women’s participation in the economy.

While Iceland leads the rest of the world, Rwanda and Namibia are two of a few countries on the African continent that are raising the level of women’s participation in the economy. Rwanda especially has seen an outstanding economic recovery in recent times, recording a double-digit growth to position itself as the second-best place to do business in Africa – thanks in part to a smart pivot to women empowerment.

Nigeria can push its economic growth level to an enviable position by uncovering and utilizing the value tucked in its massive female population. The Nigerian population comprises a strong female population of around 104 million. This is roughly around 49.31% of the total national population according to a research report byTrading Economics in 2021. 

Precisely, by equipping a larger portion of this sizeable population segment with the right skill set, and given the right opportunities to function across sectors, more value would be generated within the economy. This gender empowerment effort will have a rich impact on the country’s sagging Gross Domestic Product (GDP) rating.

This of course is the reason behind the Crown Flour Mill (CFM) Limited’s Crown Flour Angels (CFA) initiative. As the flour milling unit of OlamAgri, a global agribusiness transforming food, feed and fiber, CFM continues to explore innovative ways to support the Federal Government’s economic growth agenda. The business initiated a value chain development initiative, the Seeds for the Future program in 2021, with women empowerment as one of the valuable levers to be pulled to deliver on the nation’s economic growth agenda.

Hence in Q4 of the same year, it launched the CFA gender-upskilling initiative. The initiative is targeted at local women. It seeks to help them acquire baking skills or improve on their current baking skillset while strengthening their capacity to build successful baking businesses and become successful entrepreneurs. This empowerment focus aims to position the women to tap into the impressive $42.94 billion global cake market to improve their income levels.

To execute the project, CFM partnered the International Cake Exploration Société (ICES) to train the women. Remarkably, a good number of the participants selected for the program were indigent citizens, from the lower rung of the socioeconomic ladder.

Besides enrolling the women in its academy where top baking experts served as facilitators, the business was also able to scale its support framework for the gender by equipping them with relevant national certification in the form of the National Business & Technical Examinations Board (NABTEB) examination certificates.

 It further provided useful baking equipment such as mixers for the beneficiaries. The NABTEB certification qualifies the women to take up working roles in the hospitality sector or set up their baking businesses after graduating from the academy.

Ms. Oluwaseun Samuel’s experience is an indication that the CFA initiative will achieve even more than envisioned originally. The lady exemplified the previously hopeless states of many women in the country, their thirst for relief, and the joy that wells up when such interventions come in handy.

In the words of Ashish Pande, the Country Head for OlamAgri Nigeria, “When you empower a woman, you empower a generation. Women are the bedrock of the economy; they raise and train the children, and add value across every segment of the economy. They are the first teacher a child would know. So, they are strategically positioned to make more impact in the society.”

CFM has led the way in upskilling Nigerian women. The CFA first set of graduates were formally presented their certificates by the Lagos State Commissioner for Women’s Affair and Poverty Alleviation, Mrs. Cecilia Bolaji Dada, at an event that held on Friday, September 23, 2022. She thanked CFM for making her job easier by providing succour for the women.

The impact of the economic contribution of Oluwaseun and her colleagues would certainly be felt somewhere along Nigeria’s GDP matrix.

Quote

The contribution of women to the growth of a nation is receiving attention globally. Expert research reveals that a one per cent increase in women’s contribution to an economy often raises the level of GDP by 58.4 per cent. These explicit data underpin the race across countries to raise the level of women’s participation in the economy

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