The Nigeria Export Promotion Council (NEPC) on Tuesday in Enugu trained no fewer than 100 women entrepreneurs in the South-East on strategies for international trade.
The Executive Director of the council, Mr Olusegun Awolowo, said that the training was necessitated by the high performance of women in various businesses.
Awolowo was represented at the event by the Deputy Director, Export Development and Incentives Department of the council, Mrs Esther Ikporah.
The executive director said that the workshop was part of deliberate measures aimed at optimising export activities in the country.
He said that the training organised by the Women in Export Division of the council, would promote gender inclusiveness, increase Nigeria’s growth potential and ensure sustainable development.
“The programme is timely in light of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic which had crippled the Nigerian economy and led to steep decline in foreign exchange earnings.
“It has, therefore, become necessary to optimise export activities, especially, in areas that were previously untapped, like Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and Women-Owned Businesses (WOBs).
“The high performance of women in sectors like agriculture, textiles and apparel indicate that women play a major role in the diversification of the Nigerian economy,” he said.
Awolowo said that lack of export market trainings was one of the major reasons Nigerian exporters fail in international trade.
“Exporters need to learn the specific requirements of the target market as well as the certification needed for the product to be exported,” he said.
Awolowo said that the workshop which comprised coaching, mentoring and networking sessions would give participants the opportunity to improve their readiness and knowledge of competitiveness in international trade.
Earlier, the NEPC South-East Regional Coordinator, Mr Arnold Jackson, said that the council’s WOBs was a core strategy aimed at investing in women.
“This is in recognition of the importance of women to any economy. For diversification to be sustainable, the women have a major role to play,” he said.
Jackson said that it was sad that women were underrepresented in export businesses.
“That is why the NEPC has come up with this programme: ‘Export Market Strategy Programme for Nigerian Women-Owned Businesses’,” he said.
In an interview, a representative of African Women Entrepreneurial Programme (AWEP), Mrs Anita Allison, said that women entrepreneurs were doing a lot to grow the economy.
Allison mentioned some of the areas women entrepreneurs had broken even to include agriculture, food processing, fabric, cosmetics among others.
She, however, said that lack of awareness and training opportunities were among the major challenges negatively affecting women entrepreneurs.
She said that women entrepreneurs were also grappling with the problems associated with product certification.
“There are too many certifications from government agencies and all these require money. We want the government to make it easier for us by softening the conditions of such certifications,” Allison said.