SheTrades Nigeria: NEPC urges more WTO, ITC support for women

The Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) has urged more support from the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the International Trade Centre (ITC) to boost women-led export businesses in the country.

The Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of NEPC, Nonye Ayeni, said this at the SheTrades Nigeria Hub Interactive Session with the WTO and ITC in Abuja.

The News Agency of Nigeria( NAN) reports that SheTrades Nigeria Hub was initiated in 2016 to deliver tailored capacity-building and business-generation activities for women in Nigeria.

Ayeni said, “We will also use this opportunity to appeal to the WTO and ITC for more support for the interests of women and Nigeria in general.

“I thank the WTO and indeed the ITC team for their support over the years; a lot has been done.

“I appreciate your contributions to the success of NEPC and the success of Nigeria, especially as it relates to exports and what you have done specifically for women.

“We have seen women who were not doing anything, and suddenly they are able to provide for their families.

“We all know that once you train a woman, you have trained a community; you have trained a whole nation. So kudos to all the women; let’s leverage this opportunity and make sure that we do our best,’’ Ayeni said.

According to the NEPC boss, the focus of the event is to strengthen further the partnership between the WTO, ITC, and NEPC as the host-implementing agency for the SHE Trade Hub.

“Through this collaboration, we are working with the private and public sectors, and women in the export development programme have recorded some successes.

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“In terms of the provision of better trade, opportunities for women’s engagement with women to build a support network, and access to information and resources for women-led small and medium enterprises (SMEs),.

“Knowledge and experience sharing for successful female exporters to provide guidance and mentorship for upcoming women entrepreneurs, among others.

“I am delighted to say that since 2016, the NEPC has registered 29,000 exporters, of whom almost 8,000 are women, and the numbers are increasing.’’

While reiterating other programmes by the council for women, Ayeni said over 4, 000 women had benefited from the SheTrade programme, which was a game changer that would be leveraged on.

Meanwhile, the WTO Director-General, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, emphasised the importance of trade to the economic development of any nation.

“Trade has helped to lift more than one billion people in the world out of poverty.

“Research we have done at the World Trade Organization shows that women who export earn almost three times more than those who sell domestic goods.

“So being able to export increases your well-being, your living standards, and your income, and you can help your family and the nation more.

“And that is why we came to Nigeria to inaugurate a series of programmes that we hope will be beneficial to the country, including our women,’’ she said.

According to Okonjo-Iweala, one of the most important things to consider in exporting is meeting certain standards and quality expectations of a country.

The WTO director-general reiterated the commitment of the organisation to supporting women businesses to achieve standardisation and get certification for their exported products.

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Okonjo-Iweala recalled that the organisation recently inaugurated a 50 billion-dollar fund programme aimed at helping women trade digitally.

“So many people are trading digitally, e-commerce. What we are trying to do is use this one to help you scale your business and improve the quality of what you do.

“So I implore you not to get discouraged because I know you meet all kinds of obstacles along the way,’’ she said.

For her part, the Deputy Executive Director, ITC, Dorathy Tembo, also reiterated the importance of trade.

According to her, no country has been able to develop without substantial trade, and Nigeria is not left out.

She expressed the willingness of the ITO to continue to partner with Nigeria to ensure the standard and certification of their exported agricultural products. (NAN)

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