It was all glitz, glam, and excitement as history was made last on, December 6th, 2020, at the maiden edition of the #HERconomy Conference and the third edition of #AGSTribe Annual Enterprise Challenge where Africa’s first socio-economic empowerment mobile application for women, and a one-stop resource hub for professionals and entrepreneurs in Africa was unveiled.
Held at the Landmark Towers, Oniru, Lagos; the Governor of Lagos, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, lauded the efforts of the AGS Tribe in empowering women and expressed his commitment to support the initiatives of the community.
He hinted at the efforts of his administration to empower women in the state through a Four Billion Naira fund set to scale up over 200 women entrepreneurs and concluded his goodwill message by pledging to support 6 of the finalists in ways that will guarantee a big boost to their businesses.
The event also attracted many leaders from the public and private sectors such as Dr. Jumoke Oduwole, the Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, on Ease of Doing Business; Hon. Stella Okotete, Executive Director, NEXIM Bank; Kehinde Durosinmi-Etti, CEO of Variant Advisory; Ian Walker, Manager, Jobs, World Bank Group; amongst many others.
The event’s special guest of honor, H.E Bamidele Abiodun, in her remarks, asserted that women contribute more to the economy than their male counterparts, especially in the agricultural sector. The Ogun State First Lady also emphasized the need for training, exposure, and access to funding for more women in Nigeria.
The #HERconomy conference featured a panel session on Women Empowerment titled “When Women ‘mean business’ the world grows in leaps”, which featured Susan Okoh, Private Sector Liaison, UN Women; Karimot Tukur, Vice President, Subsaharan Africa, Mastercard; Flying Doctors’ Founder, Dr. Ola Brown; and Ukinebo Dare, Managing Director, Edo Jobs; and moderated by Chinwe Egwim, Senior Economist, FBN Quest. The panelists unanimously agreed that proper mentorship is needed to empower women to take up roles in entrepreneurship and thrive in them.
The panelists who participated in the second panel advocated for the enforcement of policies that ensure that women are involved in the political and economic space. The He for She panel, themed, ‘Advocates For a Future, Women-Led Economy’, included Hon. Seyi Adisa, Representative, Afijio Constituency, Oyo State House of Assembly; Adebola Williams, Group CEO, RED; and was moderated by Kemi Onabanjo-Joseph, Associate Partner, McKinsey & Company.
Hon. Stella Okotete, NEXIM Bank Executive Director for Business Development, in a fireside chat moderated by Olori Boye-Ajayi, Founder, The Katie Wang Company, affirmed that there is a need for an awakening amongst women to take charge of what rightfully belongs to them and the need for them to support each other in climbing the ladder of success.
The event was supported by BellaNaija, Ynaija, Amstel Malta, TechCabal, Bluechip Technologies LTD, Platform Capital, NEXIM, FP Capital, DND Travels, UK Nigeria Tech HUB, Baileys, Trendy Beevents, e-technologies Nigeria, and BusinessDay.
To round off the conference, the pitch session for the 2020 AGSTribe Enterprise Challenge featured 12 Finalists selected from a pool of over 200 entries of female entrepreneurs.
Nneka Ogboi, CEO, Mash Baby Foods emerged winner and clinched the grand prize of 1,500,000 NGN, while Ejiro Ogunmor, CEO, Anaborhi Nigeria came second with a prize of 1,000,000 NGN. The third position was tied as Adetoun Yusuf of Eve Signature and Stella Ndekile, CEO, Nuban Beauty, both went home with 500,000 NGN (with donation support from Olumide Soyombo) to encourage the efforts of the women.
One of the finalists, Mary Asanga, CEO, Kutama Enterprise, also went home with a special prize of a 250,000 NGN grant presented by Ponmile Osibo on behalf of FP Capital.
The challenge is designed to support micro-enterprises with grants and resource opportunities to scale their businesses, and the judges who evaluated the entries and keenly contested pitch session included: Osayi Alile, CEO, ACT Foundation; Olumide Soyombo, Co-founder, Bluechip Technologies; Ponmile Osibo, Partner, Platform Capital; and Tosin Faniro-Dada, Director, Programmes & Coordination, Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF).
According to the 2020 PwC, Impact of Women on Nigeria’s Economy, Nigerian women account for 41% ownership of micro-businesses in Nigeria with 23 million female entrepreneurs operating within this segment. This places Nigeria among the highest entrepreneurship rates globally.
Although the high-level participation of female entrepreneurs in the country is positive, it is however often driven mainly by necessity, which is the norm in emerging markets where there is insufficient formal employment.
The Founder of the AGS Tribe and Entrepreneur, Ifedayo Durosinmi-Etti, since 2018, has championed a support system for young women through a virtual community of female professionals and entrepreneurs.
Through this community, Ifedayo leads to a growing movement of women who now easily access grants, training opportunities, mentoring, and access to business leaders across various sectors of the economy. After being inspired to write a book, Accessing Grants for Startups; she found a staggering dearth in resources for young people especially women, and decided to build a community of women who reached out at first with more questions about her book.
Whilst most of the reforms by the current and past administrations are yet to fully take effect, it is expected that many more women will be empowered across the country through interventions and initiatives such as the AGSTribe.
——————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————BellaNaija.com is a partner for #HERconomy