By Gabriel Ewepu
ABUJA- AN Abuja based company, Mina Stones, has disclosed that women will soon be trained on gemstones and jewellery business to empower them and make them major operators in the mining sector.
Chief Executive Officer of the company, Lotana Egwuatu, made the disclosure while speaking on the maiden African Gems and Jewellery Exhibition and Seminar scheduled for October 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 jewellery 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 Gem and Jewellery seminar and exhibition in West Africa, 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 production and export in the country, and there is no registration cost 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 United States of America, USA, is the currently the largest consumer of gemstones in the world spending over $2 billion on importation.
She said: “The market for gemstones and jewellery globally is huge so this is an opportunity for Nigeria to finally get that force where we are known for specific gemstones like the Mambila Sapphire, Nigerian bearing tourmaline, and we also have some very good quality gemstones that we find here including granite and all of that.
“At Winners 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.
“The market is new in Nigeria because people don’t know we have these things here. We have to explain to people about gemstones. Most 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 trains people and if there are people who are interested to process gemstones and make jewelleries we train people on that.
We encourage a lot of young women to come into the gemstone business, but there are women in it already but more women should come in. Majority 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 also creating awareness about gemstone business. We are putting together something for women within the ages of 18 and 25 and also for widows as well. We 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 jewellery 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 jewellery 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.”