Women can be more in­no­va­tive than men – Bar Nkiru

Daily Trust - - BUSINESS -

Nige­rian Net­work of Women Ex­porters of Ser­vices (NNWES) join the rest of the world in cel­e­brat­ing the United Na­tions at 70. Bar­ris­ter Nkiru Ok­pala, the net­work Pres­i­dent in this in­ter­view opened up on the ac­tiv­i­ties of NNWES and how they sup­port women en­trepreneurs.

NNWES is cel­e­brat­ing UN@70, what was the mo­ti­va­tion for it? First of all we had to go to the pri­mary rea­son for which the United Na­tions was formed in 1945. There were some post 2nd World War is­sues, the world economies were go­ing into de­pres­sion, a lot of is­sues were ris­ing in terms of se­cu­rity all over the world and pow­er­ful na­tions of the world had to come to­gether and say since the League of Na­tions was not help­ing, prob­a­bly we will form an­other one, maybe stronger.

This was the rea­son for which the UN was set up and from that day on­wards so many na­tions have come to join the UN and I think it has about 193 or more na­tions in it and the pri­mary goal is to make the world a global field and tell the whole peo­ple of the world that whether you are black, green or yel­low you are a hu­man be­ing and for that fact you have equal rights and in that way whether you are from any part of the world, you have ac­cess to mar­ket and trade and you should be free to travel from your vicin­ity, area, coun­try to any coun­try of your choice pro­vided you have good in­ten­tions and you are not there to bring about in­sur­gency, in­se­cu­rity and dis­rupt the lives of peo­ple in that en­vi­ron­ment.

Hav­ing said that, we now re­alise that with­out hav­ing such in­ter­na­tional unity, our na­tion Nige­ria, may not be mov­ing for­ward. We can­not re­main in­wards or re­main bot­tled up in our area. We need to un­der­stand the world’s best prac­tices and we have to im­bibe them in what­ever it is we are do­ing and this mo­ment the UN is say­ing we are preach­ing peace and when we look in­wards we see that we even need that speech much more than any other coun­try.

Nige­ria is a very large coun­try and at the mo­ment a lot of things are hap­pen­ing. Who­ever is think­ing about in­sur­gency, that per­son does not want peace. It may be my brother, it maybe your sis­ter we don’t even know where the thing is com­ing from. We are not even sure where the thing is com­ing from, but by the time we let the world un­der­stand that with peace we can move moun­tains, we can con­duct busi­nesses, we can go to school, we can do a lot of things and it makes the so­ci­ety a bet­ter place.

Why we are say­ing women be­ing the foundation of the fam­ily and peo­ple who han­dle is­sues con­cern­ing the fam­ily have a very huge con­tri­bu­tion to make to­wards achiev­ing this peace, whether global peace, Nige­rian peace, state peace

How does NNWES sup­port women in busi­ness?

NNWES is an al­liance of women in dif­fer­ent ser­vices sec­tors in Nige­ria but in­ci­den­tally peo­ple in the pro­duc­tions, who man­u­fac­ture tan­gi­ble goods, have seen what we do and they say they want to be­long. This is be­cause within your house you can­not source the en­tire mar­ket the way you need and we are not just sup­port­ing lo­cally but in­ter­na­tion­ally.

First of all we let the women know that they have to have that thing that they are do­ing, and once they have what they are do­ing and have iden­ti­fied the goals and rea­sons for which they have formed that, we ad­vise them to think about where they want to be in the near­est fu­ture maybe the next one month, five months, about a year time or the next five years, then you have strate­gic plan.

And then we let you know that you can­not do it alone but you have to be in a net­work, to un­der­stand where and how it is hap­pen­ing and have an idea of where you can sell the prod­ucts, whether ser­vice or tan­gi­ble prod­ucts, you need to un­der­stand where it goes the pre­vail­ing qual­ity your prod­ucts or ser­vices have to meet. It has to be of stan­dard for peo­ple to say yes it is good and am go­ing to buy it.

So NNWES’ duty here is en­sur­ing that as a woman in busi­ness, you must be fo­cused the women have to un­der­stand that there are lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional mar­kets. We ac­cess the in­ter­na­tional mar­ket and link you up to go about and have your busi­ness as easy as you can.

Nige­ria is talk­ing about di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion from non oil ex­ports and we know that ser­vice con­sti­tutes a large area where our ex­port lies so we are link­ing up peo­ple in the ser­vice as well as the trade and the in­ter­na­tional mar­kets. And be­ing on the con­sul­ta­tive sta­tus of the UN and Eco­nomic Com­mis­sion of Africa (UNECA), we have those links that we need and most times we are en­gaged in all th­ese trade shows and de­vel­op­ment, busi­ness de­vel­op­ment and so on.

It is not some­thing we can do alone; it is some­thing we have to go with Nige­rian women so that if it ad­dresses the need of one per­son, it trick­les down to the other per­sons.

You have been in con­tact with lots of women in busi­ness, can you share some of their chal­lenges?

Lots and lots of chal­lenges, they have so­cial, eco­nomic and even po­lit­i­cal chal­lenges. On the so­cial as­pects, maybe some cul­tures will tell you there are lim­its to what a woman can do and the woman may be nat­u­rally en­dowed to achieve much more than the men. So, so­cially she has been re­duced in terms of the ex­tent she can go.

Again, this is­sue of con­fi­dence, the men feel like th­ese women are there to com­pete with them. We are not com­pet­ing with the men we are only com­pli­ment­ing what they are do­ing and when we com­pli­ment they do bet­ter and go higher. On the po­lit­i­cal as­pect, most times poli­cies and de­ci­sions are made by those lead­ers and when the women are not there to say how it af­fects them, gov­ern­ment ends up mak­ing good poli­cies which may not be achiev­able and mea­sur­able.

Some say the num­ber of women in Pres­i­dent Buhari’s ad­min­is­tra­tion is not enough to rep­re­sent the women. What is your take on it?

No mat­ter how small it has to bring in some pos­i­tive im­pact, but the prob­lem we al­ways have in that an­gle is that when they say they are in­clud­ing such, there are peo­ple who do not have the is­sues of oth­ers at heart but they end up go­ing to pick peo­ple who may not even un­der­stand the rea­son for which they were put in such po­si­tions, so it be­comes like an in house at­ti­tude where even­tu­ally the goal, ob­jec­tives are de­feated. That is one of the ma­jor things. In as much as they say 25% rep­re­sen­ta­tion of women, well that is ok but we are ad­vo­cat­ing for 50% rep­re­sen­ta­tion of women. We are on equal ba­sis with them, we are all hu­man and 50 will not be a bad place for women.

Eco­nom­i­cally you know when you have a woman who is em­pow­ered in the fam­ily at least the chil­dren will be well taken care of, even the hus­band. The stan­dard of liv­ing of the fam­ily will be higher at least com­mend­able to an ex­tent. And then you find out again that women are more in­no­va­tive. Give a woman N1 to ex­plore with and be­fore you know it she is ex­plor­ing and get­ting into a lot things. Men are not as in­no­va­tive as the women in terms of com­ing up with ideas. When the woman earns money it is not just for her­self even when the man will say it is for me and ev­ery­body.In most cases eco­nom­i­cally the di­rec­tion of it be­comes su­perb and af­fects peo­ple in the fam­ily, so­ci­ety and the en­tire sit­u­a­tion where she finds her­self in. Women need to be em­pow­ered to move the na­tion for­ward.

Where do you see Nige­rian women in busi­ness in the next 5 to 10 years?

Women of Nige­ria are be­com­ing ag­gres­sive pos­i­tively, they un­der­stand that they need to move in the busi­ness as­pect and are re­fus­ing to be docile and no more de­pend­ing on the men be­cause they have seen that yes the man may have the means but he can have 1000 mis­tresses who may not value where the resources are com­ing from. There­fore, women are

now tak­ing the bull by the horn and mov­ing on their own know­ing that yes, they can achieve what they set out to be­come. And I be­lieve with time when we have more rep­re­sen­ta­tion of women in de­ci­sion mak­ing po­si­tions, like the ju­di­ciary, House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, Sen­ate and ev­ery where in busi­ness, it will help im­prove the qual­ity of lives for women.

Women should not re­lent and come to­gether be­cause the ball lies in their court.

Photo Onyekachukwu Obi

Some agro-prod­ucts dis­played at the 1st Daily Trust Agric Con­fer­ence and Ex­hi­bi­tion in Abuja yes­ter­day by some women on Wed­nes­day in Abuja.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Nigeria

© PressReader. All rights reserved.