By Victoria Ojeme and Glory Odizuru
The new national economic recovery and growth plan will see the federal government playing down on its role as an economic driver while paving the way for private sector participation.
The Minister of Woman Affairs, Dame Pauline Tallen said this Wednesday at a workshop for the Capacity Building Of Women Cooperative Group On Business Growth and Sustainability in Abuja.
She said Nigeria is trying to reposition her economy from an oil economy to an agriculture and entrepreneurship driven economy to achieve economic prosperity.
Tallen stated that globally, entrepreneurship in small, medium and large scale businesses have been accepted as the engine of economic growth as these promote equitable development.
She noted that the major advantage of the sector is its employment potentials at low capital cost.
“It constitutes over 90 per cent of total economic activities in most economies and credited with generating the highest rate of employment for industrial production and exports. With its agility and dynamism, the sector has shown encouraging innovation and helped the country to survive the past economic recession,” Tallen said.
“It is my pleasure to inform the women that the recent Economic Recovery and Growth plan (ERGP) policy strategy of Federal Government focuses on sustainable economic development through Entrepreneurship development of small and Medium Enterprise,” she added.
She stated that prior to this time, particularly the past national development plans, emphasis had been on government – led industrialization initiative that hinged on import substitution.
She explained that government is now poised to playing down on its role as the major driving force of the economy through commercialization and privatization.
According to her, the organized private sector is seen as the major focus to spearhead economic activities and programmes.
She said that this sector is given various incentives to encourage increased participation in Entrepreneurships activity which is perceived as capable of alleviating the problems encountered by industrialist in the country, thereby giving them greater opportunity to contribute to National economy.
Tallen said, “it is worthy to note that, women in Nigeria have a natural appetite for entrepreneurship and as such venture into different business to either support their families or keep themselves busy different profitable ventures.”
She said most women who started petty –trading have grown to bigger enterprises that employ large labour force and generate financial support to the economy.
She went further to explain that women entrepreneurs in Nigeria engage mainly in business like textiles, food processing, confectionary, weaving , fashion design, soap making etc.
It is observed that, one of the major constraints of women entrepreneurship development is limited access to affordable credit. Therefore, proactive steps are necessary to engender an upsurge in credit facility to women entrepreneurs.
She said that, banks and other financial institutions should be encourage to offer their support in order to achieve the necessary growth of Entrepreneurship development, growth and sustainability.
Government had in the past created platform to enable women at the grassroots have access to loan able funds for business start-ups and expansion.
These platforms include: Women Funds For Economic Empowerment (WOFEE) in collaboration with Bank of Agriculture (BoA); Business and Development Funds for Women (BUDFOW) in collaboration with Bank of Industry (BoI); ECOWAS Gender Development Centre Micro Credit Scheme in partnership with Garki Microfinance Bank and National Women Empowerment Fund (NAWEF) in collaboration with Bank of Industry (BoI).
She stated that the government is making effort to ensure adequate provision of infrastructure to enable investors perform optimally to reduce the cost of doing business.
She also encourage the investors to come in to invest as the environment is made conducive for investment and also urge all investors to make adequate use of this opportunity.
The Minister implored participants at the meeting to make adequate use of the opportunity. She said “I have been reliable informed of the versatile and resourceful disposition of the invited resource persons that will handle all the carefully chosen training modules for this important training program.