The stumpy level of business growth in Nigeria, especially among the middle class is attributed to poor infrastructure as well as deprived access to information, despite the opportunities available locally and internationally.
Stakeholders at the National Conference of the African Women Entrepreneurship Programme (AWEP) Wednesday in Abuja opined that inspite of the availability of funding opportunities in the country, small business owners have not been able to do well for the reasons of logistics and low access to information.
The Chief of Party United State Agency for International Development-Nigeria Expanded Trade and Transport (USAID-NEXTT) Alf Monaghan, while answering questions from journalist said, “Infrastructure is the big problem, that is what is preventing the buyers who have the money, have the expertise from investing, so you are left only with the primary producers and their returns is too small to make any impact, so the country losses out in terms of wealth generation and jobs big time.
“Nigeria has been in subsistence agriculture and has sort of remained there, so you need to move into the other level of things, you need to make the infrastructure available for investors to come in and set up operations,” he said.
Monaghan whose agency aims at expanding trade and transport said the kind of assistance they would give to the women is to “provide access to market, access to finance, access to quality and secure buyers who can facilitate growth and find the markets to sale the finished goods.
“We have connections internationally, we know many of the investors, the depositors and so on, but they are not really interested to come, unless they can see that the environment which will be favourable to a value adding one is there. So the lack of infrastructure into the country is the problem”, he said.
The Chairperson of the board of Trustee and former Minister of women Affairs Hajiya Amuna Lawan-Isa said the essence of the conference is to expose women to the “opportunities that are there for the women to take in building their businesses, objective is to sensitize the women on the opportunities available and funding possibilities, how and where they can source funds.”
But she lamented that most of the women in the middle class are not well informed to utilize this opportunities, even as they are well presented. “We must carry the message to inform them that these facilities are available. Unless they get the awareness, you can’t guarantee that they would get the facilities.
We are targeting every woman, once you enhance a woman, you enhance the entire family, most of the small businesses women do are not registered, but have the capacity to expand if given the right financial support, such can contribute in no small measure form a good fraction in the economic index”, she said.
According to Yemisi Iranloye the President of AWEP, through the support of the Clinton Global Initiative, this one of the many launch of the “Missing Middle of Africa Supply Chain Project,” a program that will facilitate supplier development opportunities for African women entrepreneurs
With the theme of “Transforming entrepreneurial potentials into economic realities for women entrepreneurs”, the programme is in partnership with the United States Agency for International Development-Nigeria Expanded Trade and Transport (USAID-NEXTT) a US agency aimed at expanding trade and transport, the Central Bank of Nigeria, Bank of Industry, Nigeria Export Import Bank (NEXIM), Bank of Agriculture, Access Bank, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN).
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