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U.S. to boost Nigerian women’s participation in business

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As Nigeria’s economy returns to normal after disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States has pledged support to increase the number of women in business.

The U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Middle East and Africa, Camille Richardson, last week, participated in a roundtable with leading women business leaders and entrepreneurs, as part of her virtual visit to Nigeria.

The roundtable featured Ifeyinwa Afe, managing director for Central Africa at HP; Temitope Iluyemi, senior director of Global government relations and public policy (Africa) at Procter & Gamble; Christina Struller, vice-president of public affairs at UPS; Vani Malik, general manager at Kimberly Clark; and Margaret Olele, CEO of the American Business Council. 

Deputy Assistant Secretary Richardson and the participants shared valuable perspectives on women’s entrepreneurship and potential for business relations between women-led businesses in the United States and Nigeria.  They also discussed efforts to help confront the common challenges businesswomen face in their business endeavors.

“As both of our economies are actively engaged in recovery from the global pandemic, increased participation of women in business and as entrepreneurs is needed to help drive economic growth,” Richardson said.

At the roundtable, American Business Council CEO, Olele, described how the organization works to inspire and empower women to attain leadership roles in management and business. 

She also highlighted the ABC’s work with the Foreign Commercial Service of the U.S. Department of Commerce and its engagement with the Nigerian public and private sector to promote mutually beneficial trade and investment. 

During the roundtable, Richardson underscored the U.S. government’s support for women’s inclusive participation in Nigerian society and noted that accelerating women’s economic empowerment was critical to ensuring developing countries achieve economic self-reliance and transition from being aid partners to trade partners.

As an advocate for women’s empowerment and entrepreneurship, Richardson communicated the U.S. Department of Commerce’s priorities, including the Women Empowered Leave Legacies through Trade and Investment (WELLTI) initiative, which provides a platform to offer U.S. government support for U.S. businesswomen and their counterparts engaged in trade and investment between the U.S. and Africa and the Middle East. 

“Women continue to demonstrate that when provided with market information, access to finance and the right networks, there is no limit to what they can accomplish. This is the inspiration behind WELLTI. We are connecting women to information and networks to facilitate their ability to enter and/or expand into markets across Africa and the Middle East. Women entrepreneurs and business leaders are needed now more than ever!” Richardson explained.   

As part of the WELLTI initiative, she expressed her commitment to host follow-on activities with businesswomen across Africa and the Middle East to introduce markets and successful market entry strategies to U.S. businesswomen and entrepreneurs.

On July 13, Richardson noted that she would participate in a virtual conference to engage women entrepreneurs and business leaders from Nigeria, Egypt, Morocco, South Africa, and the United Arab Emirates.

 

 

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