Buenos Aires Declaration: Pathway to Inclusive African Continental Free Trade Area Implementation in Nigeria

Buenos Aires Declaration: Pathway to Inclusive African Continental Free Trade Area Implementation in Nigeria

Trade policy for women took an international leap with the Buenos Aires Declaration on Trade and Women’s Economic Empowerment endorsed by over 120 countries at the 11th WTO Ministerial Conference of December 2017. The Declaration firmly acknowledged the importance of incorporating a gender perspective into the promotion of inclusive economic growth.

With the launch of trading under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) in January 2021, expectations are high with regards to expanded business prospects for women-led businesses. With the AfCFTA, informal, micro and small enterprises can be integrated into continental markets and thus break barriers that have so far mitigated growth as they strive to penetrate foreign markets.

In light of this, a Townhall meeting with the theme ” Buenos Aires Declaration: Pathway to Inclusive African Continental Free Trade Area Implementation in Nigeria ” was held at the National Center for Women Development in Abuja on the 14th of December 2021.

At that meeting, Nigerian women demanded that governments in Nigeria and across Africa, collaborate and ensure that WMSMEs participate equitably and inclusively in the African continental free trade agreement (AfCFTA) currently being implemented.

The Town Hall Meeting, organized by the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment and Women Arise Development and Humanitarian Initiative (WADHI) with support from the Nigerian Export Promotion Council’s (NEPC) Export Expansion Facility Programme (EEFP) was convened to create awareness and start a discourse on how best Nigerian women can benefit from the newly implemented AfCFTA.

The Minister of State for Industry Trade and Investment, Amb. Mariam Katagum who was represented at the event by the Director of Commodities, Kaura Irimiya, stated that AfCFTA offers unparalleled opportunities for capacity building and access to markets and that businesses (WMSMEs included) will benefit from easier processes and opportunities in the overseas market. That as Nigeria strives to expand economic growth and move from recovery to prosperity, investing in women’s economic empowerment sets the compass in the right direction.

The Convener of Women Arise Development and Humanitarian Initiative (WADHI) Mme Esther Eghobamien-Mshelia, said the Townhall meeting was important, as women do more cross border trading, but have less access to credit, land and skills. Thus, they need to be given equal opportunity to maximize their full potential in trade and other economic activities, arguing that women had the capacity to provide the required solutions for nation building. She further added that, as an outcome of the Townhall, women groups will work to ensure that all identified trade gaps were effectively addressed

WADHI unveils Kowgo App for women, SMEs in Abuja

WADHI unveils Kowgo App for women, SMEs in Abuja

An initiative to ensure financial inclusion, and access to savings and loans has been launched for women-owned businesses and other vulnerable persons involved in Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) in Abuja.

The innovation known as Kowgo application, was powered by the Women Arise Development and Humanitarian Initiative (WADHI) and version 2.0 sponsored by the HHH Alumni Impact Award Grant.

It was gathered that the application  which is accessible on google play store is designed to enable women business owners and SMEs access loans and keep business records.

Speaking during its official launching at the ACCI arena, along Abuja Airport Road, at the weekend, the ACCI President, Dr. Al-Mujtaba Abubakar, said the Kowgo application would help women via digital applications at their market and revolutionalise how women do business.

DAl-Mujataba, who noted that the initiative is a partner in progress with the ACCI, explained the application would facilitate wider content to the outside world.

Also, Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian Export Promotions Council,  Segun Awolowo, who was represented at the event, noted that the council is ready to work towards successful deployment of the application into the market space.

Similarly, the Commonwealth Women Business Network team that joined virtually also lauded the innovation, acknowledging it is a testament to increasing roles played by women in the society.

The commonwealth team added that women are fast rising around the world, showing resilience, saying that Kowgo app is an audacious action and a big development in the society.

On her part, WADHI Convener, Esther Eghobamien Meshelia, promised to work constantly round the clock to ensure more incorporation for women and women businesses, as the application encourages financial inclusion and ensures market access.

According to her, “WADHI is aimed at accelerating socio-economic growth through empowerment of women, girls and vulnerable groups.

“The initiative was established to help provide appropriate platforms and management systems that support, harness and expand development opportunities that enable beneficiaries to progressively grow their entrepreneurial capacities.”

Other speakers at the event ranging from foreign embassies, traditional leaders, corporate sector leaders, to government agencies, among others lauded the initiative while promising support for  efficient utilisation of the innovation.

FG pledges commitment to gender responsiveness for commodities, export as WADHI becomes Technical Partner to Federal Ministry of Industry Trade and Investment (FMITI)

FG pledges commitment to gender responsiveness for commodities, export as WADHI becomes Technical Partner to Federal Ministry of Industry Trade and Investment (FMITI)

The Federal Government has pledged commitment to the advancement of gender inclusivity and responsiveness in commodities value chain and export.

Amb. Mariam Katagum, Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, made this known on Thursday in Abuja, at the official launch of the Gender Initiative of the Commodities and Export Department (GICED).

GICED is designed by the Commodities and Export Department (CED), of the ministry to harness available resources to empower and strengthen women’s capacity to unleash their potentials in the commodities and export trade sub-sector.

Highlighting the importance of the initiative, Katagum stated that a lot still needed to be done in the area of women empowerment in Nigeria.

She said that in order to promote women’s participation in business, the Federal Government directed that a 45 percent slot should be given to women in the ongoing Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) survival fund application.

She advised women to carry out ongoing Corporate Affairs Commission’s business registration for business formalization to access finance, market and other government initiatives.

“The female gender should be equipped and ready to break the glass ceiling and ascend to new positions of power in all spheres of our society, both in the Public and Private Sector.

“However, women especially, need to change old mindsets, take advantage of opportunities, develop their capacities and embrace the notion that they are capable of doing what men can do,” she said.

Katagum urged women to work harder for self-development, building capacities, embrace punctuality and actively engage in meaningful programmes and activities, without making typical excuses.

In an address, Dr Nasir Sani-Gwarzo, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, said the programme was expected to develop the confidence and capacity of women, as well as provide avenues for equal opportunities to be harnessed.

Sani-Gwarzo thanked the ministry’s technical partner, Women Arise Development and Humanitarian Initiatives (WADHI), for its commitment, especially in designing a detailed work plan and Memorandum of Understanding, which would soon be finalized.

He expressed hope in engaging consultants and technical advisers to strengthen the initiative.

Mr. Suleiman Audu, the director of the department, said with the ministry’s huge mandate of creating enabling environment for businesses to thrive, the main recipients of policies designed for MSMEs were women.

According to Audu, he initiated the GICED in July, after recognizing the underutilization of women in CED, and the need to close the huge gap created by the lack of female gender participation in relevant activities.

He expressed a commitment to work with relevant stakeholders to remove significant barriers to women’s economic empowerment and increase women’s participation in trade.

KOWGO TRAINING AT BWARI AREA COUNCIL

KOWGO TRAINING AT BWARI AREA COUNCIL

WADHi conducted the first of the KOWGO financial and digital connectivity training for 120 women and men under the New Era of Progressive Development People’s Initiative (NEPDPI) in Bwari Area Council Abuja with a view to helping them use innovative technology to upscale their small scale businesses. The audience included farmers, tailors, petty traders and artisans.