By Our Reporter
A United States-based organisation, African Women Power (AWP) Network, has appealed for support to help female entrepreneurs overcome barriers to starting businesses and connecting them to global markets.
Speaking during the International Women’s Day in Lagos, the Founder of the AWP Network, Mary Olushoga, said Nigeria is home to many innovative and successful women-led businesses, with some truly inspirational entrepreneurs.
She said despite the many success stories, there is a need to do more to support female-led businesses, saying the government has a duty to ensure that female entrepreneurs are able to access funding, startup support, mentoring and relevant networks.
According to her, she said (AWP) Network delivers a range of support services to female businesses, including grants for coaching, workshops, business diagnostic sessions and business advice.
For her, women’s contribution to the economy is no longer in question. This is because there are more women-led businesses.
She said entrepreneurship is a strategy to boost wealth creation and employment, urging that it should be supported from the bottom to promote inclusive development.
AWP Network honoured TV Personality, Idia Aisen and founder of ArewaMeToo, Fakhuus Hashim. and SHE-EO 100 Events,Tope Ganiyah Fajingbesi-Balogun.
They were honoured for their works. Aisen has worked with the AWP Network since 2016. Her most was in collaboration with Covenant University’s H.O.P.E Foundation, where she worked with secondary school pupils at Lagos State Model College, Meiran and assisted them in developing their business plans and entrepreneurial ideas.
The other honouree was Tope Ganiyah Fajingbesi-Balogun, an award-winning author, accountant, a lecturer at the University of Maryland, College Park and board member of United for Kids Foundation where she has raised over $400,000 for children in need.
In 2017, Fajingbesi-Balogun started the She-EO Events Initiative – a soul inspiring and life-transforming programme for purpose-driven women of African descent. The goal of She-EO is to provide a safe platform for women of African descent and discuss issues related to growth and community engagement.
Hashim established Arewa MeToo movement to crusade against various violence and abuse against women and girls. The youth-led movement provided a holistic approach to reduce risk, prevent abuses, help victims and ensure justice by not just shattering the glass of silence against unfair and harmful practices but also enabling behavioural change.
The AWP Network founder stated: “We are honoured to have established a platform that recognises African women and girls serving their local communities. We are extremely glad to establish a platform that allows us to hear directly from those doing the groundwork. These individuals are usually not recognised. In fact, their organisations struggle with everything from funding to staff recruitment. At the AWP Network, we hope that we can continue to shed light on their work so that the government, private organisations and volunteers can continue to support their efforts.
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It is a wonderful opportunity for us at the AWP Network to provide such a platform for leaders, for women, for girls doing amazing work in their respective communities. Thank you to Tope Balogun, Idia Aisen and Fakhuus Hashim for inspiring the next generation of African women and girls.”
She urged the women entrepreneurs in the audience to mentor and advise their peers, share best practices with one another, and inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs.
The first recipient of the prestigious award was Founder of the Mirabel Rape Crisis Center, Mrs Itoro Eze-Anaba, who was honoured at the AWP Network ‘Get Connected’ Forum for her dedication, service and commitment to women and girls’ empowerment.
At the event were: Reginald Bassey, AdeRemi Ademiju, Joseph Ogbeide, Brand Manager at the Nigerian Stock Exchange; Executive Director of the Women’s Technology Center, a non-profit organisation serving girls in technology, Oreoluwa Somolu-Lesi; Obama Global Leader and CEO of Future Soft Nigeria, Nkemdilim Begho; Director General of Lagos State Record and Archives Bureau, Bilikiss Adebiyi-Abiola; CEO of EasyShop Easy cook Services Limited, Saudat Salami; CEO of CashMadam Collective, Jola Ayeye and founder, Mumpreneur9ja, Mofolusade Shonaike, among others.