Minister of State for Trade and Investment, Ambassador Mariam Katagum, has urged African women to take advantage of the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act, AGOA and maximize the benefits of the initiative through concerted collaboration and resilience.
Katagum gave the charge during the 10th Anniversary celebration of African Women Entrepreneurship Programme, AWEP, in Abuja.
She also commended AWEP for working tirelessly to consolidate the commitments of the federal government towards the recognition, upliftment and empowerment of women folk in order to thrive in their businesses.
The minister described the theme of the conference “Technology, Collaboration and Resilience: Vital Tools for Sustainable Businesses is in the Now”, as being very apt in view of the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on the business landscape.
“It is important to emphasize the role of technology, which has mitigated the devastating effect of the pandemic on businesses, especially MSMEs, which are dominated by women. It is on record that the Pandemic has affected all spheres of businesses, be it marketing, Services, Public relations, Security, etc. which has propelled their continued existing/operations by going digital.
“There has, therefore, been an increase in online shopping and other forms of businesses as people turn to e-commerce to purchase items which they might have otherwise procured in person.
“Nigerian women should be honoured for their contribution and daily sacrifices with a view to improving the economic and sustainable development of their environment. This is being completed by the government in various interventions by a significant part of such initiatives to the female gender.
“This includes the MSME survival fund and guaranteed off-take schemes, which are currently being implemented under my watch.
“I therefore want to urge you to mobilise women across the length and breadth of this country to key into this initiative in order to make a difference in their businesses.
“The stand of the ministry is consistent with several key UN resolutions for increase in women participation in the area of leadership, entrepreneurship etc. for a better society. Women are estimated to account for around 70% of informal cross border traders in Africa.
“Nigerian women should take the advantage of the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and maximize the benefits of the initiative through concerted collaboration and resilience,” she said.
Earlier, the AWEP National President, Angela Ajala, in her speech said the programme is aimed at positioning women owned Nigerian businesses across global borders and platforms with export as the focus.
“AWEP was set up by the US Department of State to promote women’s businesses for growth, increase trade nationally and internationally and especially to US markets through the AGOA Act.
“Over time we have grown in leaps and bounds with over 550 members across the six geo political zones in Nigeria and currently working within five clusters, namely; agriculture/food processing; fashion and apparel; light manufacturing/interior decor; body/ health care services,” Ajala said.
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