By Gabriel Ewepu
ABUJA- AN Abuja based company, Mina Stones, has disclosed that women will soon be trained on gemstones and jewelry business to empower them and make them major operators in the mining sector.
Chief Executive Officer of the company, Lotana Amina Egwuatu, made the disclosure while speaking on the maiden African Gems and Jewelry Exhibition and Seminar scheduled for October 19-20, 2017, in Abuja.
Egwuatu who is also a co-convener of the programme said the time has come for Nigeria, particularly women to be leaders of the gemstones and jewelry business in the country and Africa following a whole lot in the gemstones value chain that are beneficial and life transforming.
She said it will be the first of its type organized by Mina Stones in partnership with Raw Materials Research Development Council organized the first ever gemstones and jewelry seminar in October 2015, while this one for October 2017 will be the first of its type involving other African countries, which about 1000 companies will be at the event, including exhibitors as well, and they are working with associations on ground, and still reaching out to more of them.
She further stated that the event will be a platform, where the industry is brought together, and for awareness creation because people are yet to know about gemstones and jewelry production and export in the country, and there is no registration cost for visitors, while exhibitors and participants are strictly invitation for the event.
According to her the export potential and foreign revenue exchange from gemstone at the international market is huge, because the demand is high internationally, which the TechnavioTM’s market research analyst predicts the global gems and jewelry market to reach a market value of around US$ 292 billion by the end of 2019.
She said: “The market for gemstones and jewelry globally is huge so this is an opportunity for Nigeria to finally get to place where we are known for ge on our globally known gemstones like the Mambila Sapphire, Nigerian copper-bearing tourmaline, and we also have some very huge deposits of good quality rubellite and indicolite tourmaline gemstones.
“At Mina Stones what we do is to source for materials locally from different states in the country, and we employ people who work for us in cutting and polishing gemstones, some market for us, there are people who bring gemstones from the mines for us. We are the only company involved in the whole value chain from sourcing gemstones, processing them to making the jewelry and setting the stones.
“The market is new in Nigeria because people don’t know we have these things here. We have to explain to people about gemstones. Many of my clients are based of word of mouth which has been effective so far, but the market generally, we noticed that Nigerians don’t respond very well because they don’t know that these things are actually here and could be done here.
“We are the only company doing this for now. Our company also trains people and if there are people who are interested to process gemstones and make jewelries we train people on that.
“We encourage a lot of young women to come into the gemstone business, but there are many women in it already but more women should come in. Many of people in gemstone mining are women and majority of gem dealers are men. When you go to the mines you see young ladies mining.
“We are creating a platform where Nigerians and Africans can bring their products that are produced here to sell and attract people globally. We want to be able to say our gemstones are polished here and jewelry made in Nigeria. This platform will make the industry to be exposed by pushing out our own local content.
“We are putting together something for women and ages 18 and 25 will be focus, and also for widows as well. I won’t say no to people older than that or younger. We will also consider those women involved in various social vices as a way of taking them out of the streets and making them useful to themselves and society.
“We are ready to work with any organization whether government or private that wants to partner with us and are ready to get ladies off the streets we are ready to partner with them.”
Meanwhile, explaining further on the gemstones and jewelry exhibition and seminar, she said, “The intent behind this event is to create a platform, where we can bring together gemstone professionals, miners, gemstone processors, jewelry makers, and sales professionals.
“It is a whole industry that has anything to do with gemstones and jewelry and it is a whole value chain.
“We are creating a platform where Nigerians and West Africans can bring their products that are from here to sale and attract people from outside come in and say these are gemstones polished and made from Nigeria. This will make the producers to be exposed by pushing out our own local gem dealers.”