As part of the efforts to correct the unemployment and underemployment rate currently at 43.3% in Nigeria, young women in the country have been advised to hone entrepreneurial skills to contribute to poverty alleviation in the nation.
This appeal to build a new prosperous Nigeria was the crux of the 2-day Women In Leadership and Career Empowerment Programme (WILCEP) Africa organized by MMS WoFHoF Initiative on Tuesday August 13th and Wednesday August 14th 2019.
Speaking at the 3rd WILCEP Africa event, the Managing Director of Development Bank of Nigeria (DBN) Mr. Tony Okpanachi lamented that Nigeria’s population has been increasing at an alarming rate, noting that the World Bank projections put Nigeria’s population estimate at 300 million by the year 2050.
Okpanachi, who was represented by the Business Development and Relationship Manager, Maryesther Ezeadi, stressed that Nigeria’s exponential population growth and the current rate of unemployment, would mean that over 90 million Nigerians will be unemployed by 2050.
However, he stressed that the fact that over 41 million Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) exist in the country meant that several Nigerians have been able to defy the odds to operate their businesses. Therefore, he urged Nigeria women to be daring and see the numerous challenges in the country as opportunities to become entrepreneurs by providing solutions.
“There are 41 million MSMEs in Nigeria according to the latest SMEDAN survey in 2017. If each of these businesses employs four people, it would totally wipe out unemployment in Nigeria as our population as at the last count was 198.5 million by World Bank figures. It is the most simplistic way to showing the power of entrepreneurship” he said.
According to the DBN boss, common challenges facing MSMEs in the country include; access to financing for businesses, collateral limitations, access to expertise for standards and customer service, capacity building in technical and managerial capacity, access to Information such as financing options, government incentives, multiple taxation and infrastructure deficits which adds to the cost of doing business.
Meanwhile, the Group Head, Human Resources at SIFAX Group, Mr. Oluwakayode Alonge admonished Nigerian women to prioritize their lives and their well-being.
The SIFAX representative lamented that Nigerian women have unknowingly placed more value on the lives of their husbands, children, siblings and other relations more than theirs.
Alonge had asked the women to write down the five most important people in their lives and only one participant, Ms. Marvellous Chukwunyem had written down her name as one of the most important persons in her life.
Alonge, who instantly awarded Marvellous N5000 for her decision, lamented that the exercise showed how Nigerian women hardly prioritize their lives as they choose to care altruistically for those around them.
Meanwhile, a Co-Director of Al-Hadiat Nigeria Limited, Mrs. Folake Soji-George urged women to persevere during challenging times in business.
“There are challenges in business but as the problems are coming, you have to provide solutions and move on. You can start little and with perseverance, your business will grow big over time. There is nothing that comes easy in life, so you don’t have to get discouraged when you face these challenges,” she said.
Folake argued that challenges were part of life, “What I can tell you from my experience in business is that the challenges you face in business is something that would help you sustain the business. We talk about sustainability in almost every forum. We know that Nigerians are resilient and they don’t want to work. If they try something and it doesn’t work out, we are always eager to try something else. As women, we should persevere”
She admonished women to draw an analogy of business challenges to the stress of going through pregnancy and raising children.
“From conception to delivery, to looking after our children up to the point they are big enough to fend for themselves; it is challenging for the woman. That is the way managing a business is. One thing about life is that you cannot quit especially when you have passion for what you do”, she added.
Also speaking at the event, the Public Relations Officer of Apapa Customs Command, Nkeiru Nwala admonished women to recognize their distinct roles at the home and at the office in order to live a happy and peaceful life.
While speaking on the topic“Tackling Depression among Career and Business Women in Nigeria Today”, she urged business women to choose to be happy, despite numerous challenges in the country.
She also advised them to seek psychiatric counsel when they feel burdened by challenges, noting that speaking out would lessen the burden and help them find solutions instead of bottling up the pains which leads to depression, suicide and other unpleasant actions.
“A woman is a mother, wife, prayer warrior and she has several responsibilities and that makes us prone to depression than men” she said.
Earlier, the Programme Officer, MMS WoFHoF Initiative, Mrs. Comfort Chisom, had assured the participants that they were set for a career/ business transforming masterclass.
Chisom recalled the experience Ms. Olajumoke Deborah who had been fired up to contest an election and emerged President of a Department in Reedemers’ University in 2017, after she attended the maiden edition of WILCEP Africa mentorship class.
She also explained that the MMS Woman of Fortune Hall of Fame (WOFHOF) Initiative has been transforming students, young graduates and working career African Women via the WILCEP Africa Mentorship Programme in the last three years.
“We want to match-make mentors and mentees in this WILCEP scheme of the MMS WOFHOF Initiative. Mentees will have the rare opportunity of having a one-one mentorship guide from the mentor in the chosen career field as listed. MMS Hall of Famers are women of unquantifiable substance who have risen to the top of their careers and are willing to show the way to the younger women” she said.