The Multi-Million Dollar Initiative Set To Help Nigerian Women Start Their Own Business


In an initiative that will help Nigerian women become more financially independent and learn how to start a business, Access Bank together with Netherlands Development Finance Company (FMO) have given $30 million toward a facility that will allow women to finance small to medium-sized enterprises. They have called it the Women Empowerment Fund.

“This for us is a milestone achievement and a step further in our relationship with FMO. We did collaborate in 2006 to promote the Gender Empowerment program (GEM) but I think today’s facility for us is necessitated because of the large program we have for the ‘W,’ the umbrella for anything for Women in Access Bank,” said the bank’s Group Managing Director, Mr. Herbert Wigwe at the signing ceremony held at the Bank’s head office in Lagos.

“Our aim is to inspire women through various strategic mentoring programs, a very interactive website which connects them, giving them better financial support and financial advisory services to enable them succeed as entrepreneurs.”

“This is another important partnership for us at the FMO as the women-driven SME sector represents a strategic pillar of Africa cum Nigeria’s quest for modernised and improved economy whilst encouraging inclusive banking in the economy,” said the Manager of Infrastructure, Manufacturing & Services at FMO, Frederik Kummersteiner.

A report by Online Nigeria states that the role of women in Nigeria’s economy is one that has largely been overlooked and not emphasized in the media.

“In Nigeria, awareness about the role of women in development gained momentum in 1995 as a result of the effective participation of Nigerian women in the International Conference on Women in Beijing, China,” it states.


In fact, Nigeria has now overtaken South Africa as the continent’s largest economy, and some reports say the inclusion of women is a huge aspect of that new statistic.

Aside from small business owners, industries boosting economic growth include a strong resources sector, telecommunications, and the increasingly popular movie industry, known as Nollywood.

But the economy is facing constant challenges with ongoing conflict between the government and Islamist militant group Boko Haram fuelling widespread uncertainty. The Nigerian currency, the Naira, has fallen by nearly 2 per cent since the recent kidnapping of over 200 schoolgirls by the group.

Access Bank aren’t the only group to tap into the entrepreneurial Nigerian women. In early 2014, Mastercard teamed up with Youth for Technology Foundation (YTF)-an international non-profit organization founded in 2000- to support 1500 women entrepreneurs by providing them with technology and skills-enhancement programs. They want to increase their business management and capacity building skills while allowing greater access to financial services.

Mastercard said their desire was to see a financially inclusive nation “where citizens across all demographic groups can access financial services and in so doing, enhance their lives.”


This initiative also was created to help boost small to medium-sized business owners.

And if you are wondering why the emphasis on female businesses in Nigeria by these financial institutions, well it’s because one of the biggest hurdles facing women in the country is that it is largely still a male-dominated and male-run country. Some of the things that have previously stopped them from stepping out are lack of education, the wage gap, fear of failure and that work-life balance that seems to plague even women in the Western world.

However, Nigeria is seeing a generation of women that are more determined than ever to succeed and create their own revenue streams due to the obstacles that often plague them.

The inclusion of women in any country’s economy is vital for a country’s growth. Japan’s Prime Minister Abe Shinzo has had to face the impending aging population of his country and understand that unless he creates a way for women to be part of Japan’s thriving economy, they will not survive. His new plan to help boost the presence of women and create initiatives to incentivize them to work has been nicknamed “womenomics”.

It seems Nigeria’s version of “womenomics” is allowing the country to boost its economy also. We believe every woman should have the choice and the option to work, start a business and contribute to society no matter what stage she is at in life. Sadly, there are many nations around the world who are not on par with Nigeria, Japan and others, but perhaps the slow change will be a ripple affect in this global economy.






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