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NACC makes case for women entrepreneurs’ empowerment

By Femi Adekoya
11 December 2019   |   3:32 am
The Nigerian American Chamber of Commerce (NACC) has advocated increased intervention for women entrepreneurs in a bid to enhance economic development.

The Nigerian American Chamber of Commerce (NACC) has advocated increased intervention for women entrepreneurs in a bid to enhance economic development.

The President NACC, Oluwatoyin Akomolafe, said in this day and age, the need to empower women, especially poor rural women, is fundamental to economic development in Nigeria.

Speaking at the December 2019 breakfast meeting organised by the Chamber, Akomolafe noted that evidence has shown that women perform enormous tasks in their families and society at large, adding that despite that, many women have not been fully involved in decision making to enable them to contribute their quota in national development.

“As the foremost bilateral chamber of commerce in Nigeria, we pride ourselves and understand that supporting women empowerment is paramount to the growth and development of the nation and it is in view of this that we put together this meeting to discuss the ways we can ensure in-depth financial inclusion to foster empowerment for women entrepreneurship, social enterprise, corporate and political leadership to bring about socio-economic development in an encompassing perspective,” he said.

“I believe that if women and women-led businesses have access to and are able to use multiple financial services, they will have the adequate tools to develop their financial autonomy, which will allow them to contribute to economic growth and therefore enhance their opportunities to take advantage of the opportunities that the future will bring”, he added.

On its part, the Development Bank of Nigeria (DBN) stated that over N95 million has been disbursed within two years of its operation to women entrepreneurs and for youth empowerment in the country.

The Managing Director, DBN, Tony Okpanachi, said no more than 21 per cent of the loan representing 69.3 per cent has been disbursed to women entrepreneurs in less than two years it started operations.

The Managing Director represented by the Chief Operating Officer, Bonaventure Okhaimo, stated that about 39 per cent representing 51.57 per cent of the loan was also disbursed for youth empowerment in the country.

According to him, the areas where it has not impacted greatly is the start-up’s segment which represents about 1 per cent of the loan disbursed so far, saying that plans are underway to increase the figure significantly.

“Our challenge is that we do not lend directly as we depend on PFIs to disburse these loans,” he said.

He noted that the bank is launching its Women Entrepreneurs and Financial Inclusion programme while also creating strategic partnerships with State governments to create a critical mass for Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) finance in Nigeria.

He noted that about 36.6 per cent of Nigerians are financially excluded, revealing that going by the latest report by the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics (NBS) over 3 million SMEs were lost due to lack of access to credit, calling on the need to urgently address this challenge.

Highlighting some of the challenges hindering its operations, he said the structure of the industry is one with a fragmented microfinance space, unwillingness of PFIs to lend to start-ups and first-time borrowers, insufficient leverage on current infrastructure and initiatives to ease collateral requirements of MSMEs by financial institutions as well as huge gaps in capacity of MSMEs thus making them unattractive to PFIs.