In a bid to empower African women with requisite skills and platform to prosper their business, the Economic Community of West African States have launched the 50 million African Women speak project which is aimed at providing a platform and requisite knowledge for women entrepreneurs.
The project which cuts across the 15 member states of the ECOWAS was launched in Abuja, and it is expected to be funded by the African Development Bank.
ECOWAS representative, Raheemat Momodu who represented the commissioner for social affairs and gender relations said the project is targeted at attracting 50 million women entepreneurs across member states, but will strive to surpass the number in order to ensure that African women are empowered maximally.
“A study by AfDB revealed that women entrepreneurs face gender parity in accessing financial services and as well as cultural barriers in their various businesses. It is because of these constraints that make it difficult for women to access funds that will enhance their business prosperity across the continent.
“In another report that the world bank, 70% of SMEs owned by women do not access financial services from financial institutions, resulting to a deficit of $285 billion across the continent. In sub-saharan Africa the deficit is estimated to be at $20 billion and it is at the level of younger women.
“This is why member states have decided to host and implement the 50 million African women speak project which is funded by the African development bank and Nigeria is seen as a strategic in achieving this.
“The objective of the project is to facilitate business through the creation of virtual platform for networking and information sharing order to improve productivity and economic prosperity. As such, ECOWAS has empowered the 15 member state in setting up committee to facilitate the implementation,” she explained.
Momodu said it is expected that women across ECOWAS member states to use the platform to grow their business and also network.
On how women at the grassroot will be reached, she said the women affairs ministry will in collaboration with the media carry out sensitization and mobilize women to come out and register for productivity
Earlier in her remarks, the minister of women affairs and social development Pauline Tallen said the ministry which is expected to anchor and ensure implementation of the project in Nigeria “Will set all mechanisms in place to achieve that the objectives of the projects are achieved”
She added that the ministry is in full support of the programme aimed at ensuring that Nigerian women and girls improve their livelihood through entreprenurship.
Tallen while commending the African Development Bank for funding the project, added that the platform will enable women have access to financial services and support them to make their businesses grow in the African region.
The minister who was represented by the permanent secretary in the ministry, Mrs Ifeoma Anabgogu urged women to key into the project as there are a lot of opportunities from networking and linkages.
She also pledged government’s commitment in women empowerment through various micro credit scheme in collaboration with different agencies at all levels.