How the private sector can improve women-owned businesses in Nigeria

In Nigeria, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SME’s) contribute to 48% of the national GDP. A recent report by PWC Nigeria, shows that women account for 41% ownership of micro-businesses in Nigeria, with 23 million female entrepreneurs operating within this segment. This shows that women are a major driving force in economic development in Nigeria, however, a lot of women-owned businesses struggle to survive.

A lot of women-owned businesses suffer major setbacks due to some challenges, including lack of proper business skills and knowledge, family and societal limitations, lack of proper business structure and limited access to finance (which is usually highlighted as a major problem). The Nigerian government through several schemes by the Ministry of Women Affairs and provision of low-interest loans by the Bank of Industry, has tried to solve some of these challenges; however, there is still a huge gap to be filled, as the government alone cannot solve these problems.

It is important that the private sector proactively supports the government’s effort to help with the growth and advancement of women-led businesses. A good example of how private organisations can support female entrepreneurs is the Y’ellopreneur initiative by MTN Foundation. The program includes a four-week training program for 500 female entrepreneurs and equipment loan for the top bankable business ideas. Some other examples include the Flourish Africa grant and the Womenpreneur pitch-a-ton initiative by Access bank.

Despite a few organisations supporting the growth of women businesses, these challenges are very present, and there is a need for more organisations to actively support the government in advancing this cause. Based on available data on the impact of women-owned businesses, one can rightly say that the development of women entrepreneurs equals economic growth for Nigeria. Hence it will be beneficial to have a lot of organisations within the private sector invest in supporting women all year long.

Organisations can support by providing access to curated education and training, which can help cultivate the growth of women-owned small businesses. This can be done by publishing guides, providing resource hubs, hosting financial literacy training, and other educational opportunities.

Organisations can also help by way of connecting women-owned small businesses with each other and with local and international institutions that can support their successes. Private organisations can also support by providing funding in form of loans or grants for female entrepreneurs, that way they can easily scale their businesses, provide job opportunities and at the same time, contribute to the growth of the Nigerian economy.

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