Nigeria – CIPE hosted a workshop in Lagos for 26 women participants representing 17 business and professional organizations throughout Nigeria. Facilitated by CIPE Nigeria Country Director Wumi Gbadamosi and CIPE consultant Carmen Stanila, the workshop focused on advocacy techniques for promoting policies that improve the business environment for women. The participants learned about the elements of building an effective advocacy campaign and laid the foundation for a network of women business associations by developing the mission, goals, membership categories, structure, and the groups’ rules for the network. This is the second workshop in a series, which is part of CIPE’s program to enhance the participation of Nigerian business women in decision-making.
Pakistan – The Peshawar Women’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry organized its first focus group meeting as part of a CIPE-funded initiative to identify and address policy-related barriers to the development of women’s entrepreneurship in Pakistan. Access to finance was highlighted as a major issue that will need to be addressed, both to encourage greater participation by women in entrepreneurship and to support the expansion of women-owned firms.
Afghanistan – The Impressive Consultancy Company and the Women’s Economic Empowerment Center conducted an exhibition of products made by women-owned businesses on February 14 to mark Valentine’s Day. Several students from CIPE’s Tashabos youth entrepreneurship course participated in the event, setting up booths to display and sell their products, providing them with a chance to improve their marketing skills.
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Bangladesh – CIPE Pakistan Deputy Country Director Hammad Siddiqui participated in the South Asia Women’s Entrepreneurship Symposium in Dhaka, which was organized by the U.S. State Department. Participants included leading women entrepreneurs and business association leaders from India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Nepal. Other participants included U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues Melanne Verveer, Executive Director of the State Department’s U.S.-Pakistan Women’s Council Sarah Peck, and a range of other U.S. government officials. The Symposium sought to give women entrepreneurs in the region a platform to discuss trade facilitation and an opportunity to share best practices to grow their businesses. Siddiqui presented CIPE’s program to create a network of regional women’s business associations, which will complement the State Department’s efforts in the region.
Nigeria – CIPE Country Director Wumi Gbadamosi and Assistant Program Officer Erica Poff participated in an event in Akure, Ondo State, hosted by the Country Women’s Association of Nigeria (COWAN) in honor of International Rural Women’s Day. COWAN, a leading association representing about 260,000 rural women entrepreneurs across Nigeria, recently participated in a CIPE workshop to build the capacity of Nigerian women’s business associations to better represent their members. Gbadamosi and Poff also met with the Governor’s Special Advisor on NGOs to discuss how Ondo State is improving the business environment and promoting development, as well as the leadership of the Akure City Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture to discuss future programming opportunities with CIPE.
Peru – CIPE partner the Institute for Liberty and Democracy held a workshop in Cusco aimed at promoting business participation among indigenous women and building the capacity of indigenous women’s associations. The workshop provided over 40 participants with the legal and economic tools to pursue entrepreneurial ventures, know their rights, and advocate for removing challenges that affect the local business environment. CIPE consultant Marina Stadthagen presented at the workshop on association governance and the importance of business associations in democratic societies.
Nigeria – CIPE hosted a three-day capacity-building workshop for 24 women representing 15 Nigerian business and professional women’s associations at CIPE’s field office in Lagos. The workshop on association management covered topics including best practices for functional boards and management; strategic planning; membership recruitment and retention; and service provision. CIPE Nigeria Country Director Wumi Gbadamosi, CIPE Field Representative Camelia Bulat, and CIPE Program Officer Yana Hongla facilitated the workshop. CIPE is working to enhance the capacity of business and professional women’s organizations to effectively advocate for their members’ interests.
Zimbabwe – CIPE partner the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) hired two consultants to provide assistance to the Women Alliance of Business Associations of Zimbabwe (WABAZ). The first consultant met with two WABAZ members to provide technical assistance on association management and membership development, while the second consultant met with five WABAZ members in Harare and Bulawayo to solicit input on the development of a strategic plan to guide the informal coalition over the next five years. This is part of a CIPE program with ZNCC to empower women’s business associations to advocate for policy and regulatory reforms on issues affecting women entrepreneurs.
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Recognizing the importance of women in the key issues that Nigeria and ECOWAS are committed to addressing, Life Impact Foundation International (LIFI) has recently prepared a position paper on the Women and Cross-Border Trade Project in Nigeria. LIFI argues that women cross-border traders are driving forces in alleviating poverty, ensuring food security, and generating employment.
Important though they are, most of these women remain in the informal sector where they are not recognized and do not benefit from policies meant to facilitate trade in the region. Although ECOWAS has implemented a set of protocols to reflect the decisions of heads of state, enforcement of these policies has been found wanting. Because of this, significant challenges faced by women-cross border traders remain including lack of information regarding trade protocols, transport constraints, lack of access to finance and networks, and extortion of all kinds.
To address the problem, LIFI has developed several recommendations for action that will help shift the way all actors of the cross-border trade community view these women:
- Officially recognize the significance and needs of women as contributors to national and regional trade and development in trade policy and export promotion
- Develop cross border trade facilitation programming targeted at women traders
- Empower women traders through greater access to horizontal and vertical business linkages, information, skills and resources
- Build capacity among border officials toward gender sensitive professional practice, standards and accountability
- Initiate multi-sectoral approaches that will support the facilitation of women’s cross-border trade
As the position paper states, “moves towards regional economic integration for the purposes of economic and human development cannot ignore the role of women cross-border traders.” Only when informal women traders enjoy the same access to markets, opportunities, and ability to operate in the formal sector, will the region truly realize trade openness and substantial regional economic growth.
Read the full Position paper here.
Thanks to Eniola Dada for sharing this paper.
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KnowHow, CIPE’s new online resource, matches the professional skills of corporate or individual volunteers with business associations seeking technical assistance. The online resource targets associations, rather than single entrepreneurs or business professionals, because helping an association multiplies the effect of a single intervention across an entire membership. While KnowHow is open to all associations, the first group of participants are women’s associations, like the Women in Business and Management (WIMBIZ) in Nigeria. Continue reading ‘Women in Business and Management of Nigeria Seek KnowHow’ »
Read the interview in BusinessDay:
“Toki: Developing, Sustaining Entrepreneurs the Legal Way”
“Business development is her passion, law is her profession, women liberation is her message – for a truly developing economy with the needed infrastructure.”
Read the interview in the Nation:
“The Many Hats that Toki Mabogunje Wears”
At Toki Mabogunje & Co., “our by-line here is that we nurture enterprises for growth. I’ve realised that helping others to achieve their true potential is what makes me truly happy…
Part of wanting to help businesses develop networking is a very important aspect of consulting and this is how I’ve gotten involved in business associations. That’s why I’m involved in the Chamber of Commerce, NASME, AWLTT (African Women Leaders Think Tank) and so on.”
In a video interview presented by McKinsey, Cecilia Ibru, CEO of Oceanic Bank, explores gender norms in Nigeria and the balancing act involved in alternately defying and accepting them in order to achieve success as a woman in business.
In a related interview, Ibru discusses the current challenges of managing a bank in Africa, where the global economic crisis meets an ongoing local crisis of development challenges.
I expect Ibru’s remarks will provoke different reactions. See what you think.