Creating avenues for women-owned enterprises to export their products and services within and outside the country is a way to promote economic development, empower women as well as advance gender equality. Although women participation in trade is growing worldwide, there still lies an exceptionally low level of competitiveness. We know that women constitute 41% of micro-business owners as against 59% of men in Nigeria. But how can we bridge this gap? With the export business in Nigeria solely dominated by men, women who have interest in export are constrained by lack of capital and technical knowledge to produce, brand, package, and export goods.
As part of the Women’s Voice and Leadership Nigeria (WVL-N) project’s goal to eliminate any form of discrimination and violation of rights against women, Child Care and Adult Protection Initiative (CCAPI) commenced training, capacity building as well as registration of small businesses for beneficiaries at communities in Cross River state, organizing them in groups to form cooperatives. Support provided for beneficiaries of the project ranges from; NAFDAC registration, trademarks acquisition, nurturing collaborations with the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), facilitation trainings on Branding and Packaging suitable for export, linkage to loan facilities, among others.
“This change is the first of its kind in our community, before we had no idea of packaging and branding and we didn’t know the right source to go through, but since this project came to our community and trained us on how to package our product for export, we have been able to make a lot of sales as people now come from neighboring villages to buy our packaged custard” Mrs. Georgian Nkom, Executive Director, Voice of Ejagham Women Association (VEWA)
“We have always yearned for a level playing field for everyone irrespective of gender. This is what CCAPI, and ActionAid Nigeria are giving us through the WVL-N Project” Ms. Grace Eze Obi, ED, Women Assist Foundation (WAF)
The change was significant as women were provided a platform in Cross River state to participate in the export trade, through technical knowledge acquired from the various trainings; now businesses of women at community level are expanding rapidly with increased production and sales, increased income as well as sustained support for family members.
In her words, the Chief Trade Promotion Officer, Nigerian export Promotion Council, Mrs. Sylvia Adeneija said that over 20 women have been registered as exporters and products collected for future export. “Most of these women trained were mostly widows, and survivors of Gender Based Violence, but after this training on export and branding, they can now fend for themselves and their family, though more needs to be done as these women need facilities to be able to export internationally”
With Cross River state on the right path towards inclusion and active participation of women in export business, an enterprise that was hitherto a male-dominated venture, more women are now trained, and more cooperatives formed and registered through the WVL-N project, Funded by Global Affairs Canada.