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Women empowerment takes centre stage at EPI’s workshop



Women empowerment takes centre stage at EPI’s workshop
  • Ogun deputy gov., BOI, others back group’s initiatives


Themed; “Against all Odds,” a recent workshop organised by the Lagos State chapter of a women group- Entrepreneurs Platform Initiative (EPI), had showcased the courage, passion, persistence, resilience and commitment of womenfolk to achieve nation building through creativities, innovations and job creations. However, the forum, which featured experts across major sectors including politics, entrepreneurship, banking, media, among others, had also recognised disunity among women as a major contributions to their poor records of achievements, in spite of the giant strides they are making across the continent and the global space.

The workshop, which was declared open by the Deputy Governor of Ogun State, Chief Mrs. Yetunde Onanuga, also had in attendance the Executive Director, Micro Enterprise and Financial Inclusion of the Bank of Industry (BOI), Mrs. Toyin Adeniji; Creative Director of Dunamis Events, Mrs. Funbi Akinyosoye; Public Relations expert, Mrs. Nkechi Alli Balogun, among others.

The only man among the panelists was the Executive Director of Corporate Banking, First Bank of Nigeria Plc, Mr. Remi Oni, who had jokingly declared his importance to the gathering “as a father of three girls without a boy.” In her keynote address, Onanuga said though it is a popular belief that behind every successful man is a woman, but to her, “this seems to have become a cliché only known to the tongues but not in action.” The deputy governor, who was represented at the event by her Senior Special Assistant, Mrs. Abiodun Oyedele, noted that; “As the real homemakers, women are the primary builders of a nation because they mould the children into adulthood who eventually become leaders.”

She had added that whatever empowerment women receive will automatically reflect in the way they build their homes, and that in turn reflect on the nation by extension. She said; “We do so much for our men to achieve all the successes they record. Apart from keeping the home safe by grooming the children, providing both physical and emotional support for the family, we also develop entrepreneurial skills to build a thriving business.

“These skills must be supported and nurtured to build our children who in turn become youths and later the leaders of the country. Once women and youths are fixed the socio-economic challenges facing the country will be largely addressed.” Earlier in her welcome address, the group’s Global Convener, Mrs. Mercy Abu Bello, said the group was formed some years ago to affirm women, support their business skills and nurture their dreams.

She thanked the panelists for their belief in the initiative, noting that the overall benefits of the programme will include helping to revamp the entrepreneurial sector by injecting young minds and more women into it; “and this in turn will lead to selfreliance which will curb idleness and restiveness.”

Meanwhile, the Bank of Industry (BOI) used the platform to explain the rationale behind its decision to earmark N22 billion gender fund for the support of women entrepreneurs, saying it is aimed at boosting the rank of successful business women across the length and breadth of the country.

The bank’s Executive Director, Micro Enterprise and Financial Inclusion, Mrs. Toyin Adeniji, said beyond the funding, the bank was ready to support any “bankable business idea” with required guidance and nurturing towards ensuring that it yields desired result. She added that loans less than N10 million does not require collateral such as properties but only two guarantors with proven integrity and financial muscle to refund the loan, should the borrower default.

Adeniji said the ultimate result desired by the bank is the promotion of national economy and abolition of poverty. In their separate presentations, Mrs. Nkechi Alli Balogun and the Creative Director of Dunamis Events, Mrs. Funbi Akinyosoye narrated their journey to excellence, linking their successes to determination, persistence and doggedness. According to Mrs. Alli Balogun, though the Civil War had truncated her early education, she remained undaunted and had moved from the Grade II Teacher School, to college of education and eventually to university. She advised the growing younger generation of women and entrepreneurs not to be distracted by the dangerous culture of getrich- quick-syndrome, noting that the ends will eventually justify the means.

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