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Empowering women entrepreneurs for multinational supply chain

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Temitope Iluyemi

Amid existing deficit in the number of women who are skilled in entrepreneurship sector, Procter & Gamble, a Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) company in Nigeria has remained consistent in grooming to get them integrated into the supply chain of multinationals.

A report by McKinsey’s, 2016, posited that if women were allowed to equally participate in the economy, they could add as much as $28 trillion or 26 per cent to the annual global Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2025.

With the realization; and determination to boost women participation in businesses; P&G’s Women Entrepreneurs Development Program was launched last year in partnership with WEConnect International, a global network that connects women-owned businesses to qualified buyers around the world. When The Guardian visited the company’s corporate office in Ikeja, Lagos, some top representatives were on ground to shed more light on the programme.

Speaking with Director of Government Relations P&G Sub Sahara Africa, Temitope Iluyemi and Head of Purchases; Ihinosen Ebinum, they observed that Women Entrepreneurs Development Program (WEDP) aims to provide training on various technical aspects for growing business ventures, including skills acquision and technical support required for females to succeed in the business environment.

It would be recalled that P&G successfully trained over 50 Nigerian women entrepreneurs in collaboration with Accenture, Access Bank and British American Tobacco (BAT) on entrepreneurship fundamentals, human resource development, assessing finances and corporate branding using digital media tools last year.

This year, Ebinum said would be different, “We are having just 20 women because we want to go deeper and broader in the content of what we are sharing with them. We are having ten modules of different areas we are coaching, spread across four weeks. Within each module, we will have them go away with assignments and projects. We have a session dedicated to accounting and bookkeeping as well as how to source funds from banks. We have these modules fully integrated into the programme.”

Iluyemi added, “Women empowerment is a big deal for P & G; we have been engaging women and girls for the past 30 years,” expressing optimism that the company will continue to invest in women. She stressed that P&G was one of the biggest advertisers in the world, “We use the medium to remove all the gender-base biases against women; women and girl education, entrepreneurship, breaking the barriers to developing women who want to go into businesses. We are a consumer goods company and we reach out to everyone in the world, and we understand all types of people.

The programme, which is open to all women business owners in the WEConnect International Network, women-owned businesses and certified Women Business Entrepreneurs, will take place next month.

Ebinum lamented, “Nigeria is a country of huge potential, yet women are being systematically excluded and disadvantaged. Through this program, we aim to economically empower women with the right tools and knowledge needed to grow their businesses and offer opportunities for them to provide solutions to multinationals across the country”.

The company provides platform women to build their businesses, create right network for them to meet other business experts, and clients that would be interested in their businesses.

The women are also exposed to training on business management, strategic leadership, human resources, logistics and things they need to learn to be able to integrate into value chain of multinationals.
The Country Director of WEConnect; Shade Ladipo explain further on the initiative; “We are happy to partner with P&G to help women achieve their full potentials and to have a competitive edge in their businesses. We commend P&G’s effort in ensuring that women are no longer disempowered, but included and supported.”

Speaking on the criteria for selection of the participants; Ebinum said the women must be certified with WEConnect, and be able to manage their relationship with other colleagues to grow their businesses.

“It is also worthy to note that women who are not certified with WEConnect also get to participate in other programmes that address women empowerment through education, vocational training. For instance, we have partnered with United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and we are training 110 thousand women and girls in the northern part of Nigeria. This is basically to provide them with basic illiteracy skill. Among them, there are also women who have passed the age of being in class; they are not just teenagers. Because they didn’t get the right training to make a successful business, we are providing them with vocational training in various areas, catering, tailoring and so on,” Illuyemi noted.

She further added, “We are going to have business and industry experts providing training to these women on different topics. The cost element to this training P & G is going to absorb 100 per cent. Talking about funding for SMEs, or funding for the women to start up their business, we have a supply chain finance partnership with some banks, we expose these banks to the suppliers and with the backing of P$G providing then businesses, the banks are able to lend them support. The banks are also invited during the training to talk to the women about opportunities that abound for women entrepreneurs”.

The two companies’ sole aim is women empowerment, and as stated by Ebinum, “Our core values and five pillars are natural feat, so what we are trying to do is leverage the fact that it is already their core competency to execute what we believe in.”


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