AWP Network improves female entrepreneurs’ access to grants
Known for connecting women-owned small businesses with the right channel to grow their network, the AWP Network through its Vendor Alumni programme recently held an event for women in its cohort one to three.
The event, which held for three days for each cohort, was graced by experts who educated the women entrepreneurs on how to get grants and expand their businesses beyond the shores of Nigeria.
According to the founder AWP Network, Mary Olusoga, the alumni event was organised to help vendors network, adding that the event for cohort four would hold within the year.
She stated that the organisation was continually looking for partnerships to connect women to large retail stores, disclosing that it has an existing partnership with ShopRite Nigeria and Prince Ebeano.
“We want to improve access to market opportunities for these women entrepreneurs. When we first started, which was in the middle of the pandemic in 2020, we had 2,500 applications. We doubled our application number in 2021, and we almost quadrupled our application numbers in 2022. Hence we have women from across the country in our network,” Olusoga said.
She noted that the goal of the AWP Network is to help more women get their NAFDAC and ISO Certifications to make it easier for them to export and hopefully put Nigeria on the global map.
One of the facilitators and co-founder, Kobo360, Ife Oyedele, noted that the future remains bright for the Nigerian female entrepreneurs.
“With the advent of organisations like AWP, I think there is a lot of focus now on women empowerment. People are seeing that women are not just people that you put at home, in the kitchen, to look after the family.
“Women are very strong and diverse. They are very intellectual in their approach to managing things and I think putting them in that position where they are actually managing organisations will see organisations thrive, because many of them come in with logic and empathy,” she said.
For Director, Enterprise Development Centre, Pan-Atlantic University, Nneka Okekearu, “women need to be very intentional and deliberate about the businesses that they are running. Growth will not happen by chance; they have to plan it. They should also know that they cannot do it alone; they need to make connections that will help them grow their businesses.”
Okekearu also said women need to learn to document their processes. “It’s never too early to audit. Have your own journal. They might be thinking the right time is when their businesses are five years old or when they have made a billion. No! Have your businesses audited, every year. It helps,” she added.
She, however, urged women to have a grip on their finances. “They shouldn’t be scared. Yes, you have your accounts, but you must know your figures and interpret the implications of those figures. Things might seem like they are gloomy. They need to just hang in there because there are many opportunities and the prospects are very bright.”