Nigerian Export-Import Bank (NEXIM) has begun moves to back women and youth exporters with a seed fund of N10 billion under its Women and Youth Export Facility (WAYEF) programme.
The bank also announced a partnership with Afreximbank under which $50 million Project Preparation Fund (PPF) would be mobilised for Nigeria.
The objective of the PPF is to provide technical assistance to small and medium enterprises (SMEs), including those promoted by women and youths towards presenting bankable proposals thereby improving their access to funds.
The managing director/chief executive officer, NEXIM Bank, Abubakar Abba Bello made the revelations in Abuja on Tuesday, 30th March at the launch of Women and Youth Export Facility (WAYEF).
Bello said the launch of the facility was in commemoration of the 2021 “International Women’s Day” celebrated globally on March 8, adding that WAYEF would increase women and youth participation in the global export market. The event also featured a capacity building session on the theme “Unlocking Export Market Opportunities for Women & Youth”, where women and youth that were engaged in profitable export businesses were invited to share their experiences as a source of inspiration and encouragement to others.
Bello explained that the bank has provided enormous support for many export-oriented industries that are high employers of women and youth such as cashew, Shea, hibiscus, ginger etc where a lot of women are involved in cleaning and packaging of the products for export.
He said WAYEF would provide more financial support for women and youth owned businesses operating in the various aspects of the export value chain under a more dedicated and focused arrangement. According to him “WAYEF, however, seeks to do more by supporting women/youth owned businesses operating in the various aspects of the export value chain under a more dedicated and focused arrangement”.
While discussing the challenges of meeting the Sustainable Development Goals of gender inequality, he noted that “In Africa and developing countries, discrimination against women has its root in age-long cultural practices. This underscores the need for us to redouble our efforts towards addressing such cultural practices and other obnoxious beliefs that have imposed limitations on the female gender. He noted further that “the male gender needs to understand that we are poorer as a people and as nations by denying our women equal opportunities”.
He cited a recent study by the World Bank titled, ‘The High Cost of Gender Inequality’ where it was observed that countries are losing $160 trillion globally, about twice the amount of global GDP, because of differences in life-time earnings between women and men. The study concluded that “gender equality could increase human capital wealth by 22 percent globally and urged countries to invest in policies that promote more and better jobs for women and equal pay at work,” said Bello.
Also speaking, Stella Okotete, the Executive Director, business Development, who ascribed the whole idea of WAYEF to Bello, said part of the reason why women and the youth were not fully playing as aggregators and exporters in the agriculture value-chain was because of the high cost of funds and difficulty in accessing same. To that effect, she said WAYEF is the answer.
Okotete added that hitherto, the rate of interest on funds from NEXIM was 9 percent. However, according to her, between now and February 2022, due to the negative impact of COVID-19 on the economy, the interest rate would be 5 percent.
She also said WAYEF is all about supporting women and young people and announced that a seed fund of N10 billion had been made available for that purpose. She challenged the women present to make the move to access the fund, adding that the requirements have been made less stringent.
In her remarks, the Minister of Women Affairs, Dame Pauline Tallen commended the management of NEXIM Bank for putting together such a facility for the benefit of women and youth, adding that that was in line with the poverty eradication objectives of the Federal Government of Nigeria. She noted that poverty was a major challenge in the country and that women and youth were most vulnerable, particularly those in the rural areas.
The minister called on all female executives in financial institutions and other Nigerians, including the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to emulate NEXIM Bank and come up with facilities that will empower women and youth who are the most vulnerable segment of the society, towards unlocking their entrepreneurial abilities and expanding their businesses.
According to her, the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs, in collaboration with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) last year launched a framework for advancing women’s financial inclusion in Nigeria, which aimed at easing the constraints that women face in accessing a broad range of appropriate financial products and services to grow their businesses.NEXIM Shifts Focus To Women, Youths, SMEs With N10bn Seed Fund
Hon Stella Okotete, who launched the WAYEF encouraged all the women to embrace the opportunities therein and make the best out of government’s effort in ensuring gender equality. She vowed to continue to promote the interests of the womenfolk at all times.
The Executive Director, Corporate Services of NEXIM Bank, Dr. Bala Bello thanked all the participants and the invited guests that graced the occasion which was well attended and urged women, youth, and exporters in general to continue to make efforts to access the funds provided by the bank.