Panelists at the second edition of Development Bank of Nigeria’s International Women’s Day Seminar have stated that failure to optimize the potential of women will affect the social and economic development of Nigeria. The virtual event was organized by DBN in commemoration of the 2021 IWD themed: #Choose to Challenge. International Women’s Day is a global event held every 8th of March to celebrate the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women.
Tony Okpanachi, The Managing Director/CEO of Development Bank of Nigeria Plc, expressed optimism on the outcome of the virtual event when he said that “even though we are compelled to have this year’s celebration virtually due to the constrained by social distancing protocols, we are certain it will be an impactful session, nonetheless. As the Chief Executive Officer of Development Bank of Nigeria Plc, I am even more proud to be part of this landmark event, knowing the strategic role women play as reliable builders of Micro, Small, and Medium Scale Enterprises, a segment we are mandated to reduce financial constraints for”. So, why is DBN interested in women, you may ask? Because women are the real architects of society”. He added.
Speaking further, the CEO expressed optimism on the prospect of the event thus:
“From our Keynote Speaker – Funke Opeke, Founder/CEO, MainOne to our dynamic and erudite panel, I have no doubts, that our conversations today will certainly both inspire and challenge us to make the world a better place for women”.
During the session, panelists comprising Mojolaoluwa Makinde, the Head, Brand, and Marketing of Sub Saharan Africa Google; Nkem Okocha Founder MamaMoni; Andrew Alli CEO South Bridge and Amina Oyagbola Founder WISCAR, deliberated on “The cost of exclusion: Challenging Gender Stereotype and Promoting Inclusive Growth.”
Speaking on the effect of gender exclusion, Ali explained that women make up half of the population of countries, and restricting this huge manpower to just household management will hurt the economy. “Educating women is one of the most important development efforts to growing a country. If women are not able to reach their full economic and social potential that is going to have a huge impact on GDP. One way of increasing GDP is increasing the number of people in your population who are maximally productive. Looking at Nigeria, having women restricted is having a huge impact on our economy. A quick way of boosting our economy is enabling women to reach their full potential,” he explained.
On her part, Nkem who established a Micro-Credit Scheme to bridge the financing gap for rural women stated that the impact of MamaMoni has shown that given financial literacy and inclusion, women will contribute meaningfully to the economic development of Nigeria. “We have funded about 1,500 businesses, and impacted over 7,000 women across Nigeria. These women have grown and can generate revenue to train their children in school. Some of them have had up to 80% increase in household income. The key is that before giving them the money, we build a relationship with them. We train them on basic bookkeeping and financial discipline measures,” she said.
While advising career women on their growth and development, Amina stressed the need for them to be focused, goal-oriented, and invest their energy in networking. “Whatever you choose, you must have a clear plan. Things may not work out the way you planned them, but a clear plan will enable you to make the right decision when you are faced with challenges. Mentorship also comes in; where you have doubts, you can consult your mentor. You need to be prepared, gather the experience, volunteer to take responsibilities, and join associations for networking,’’ she advised.
Referring to what her organization Google is doing for women inclusion and gender equality, Mojolaoluwa explained that the platform provides entrepreneurship, leadership, and literacy support through the WomenWill initiative. She also announced the launch of the Google Impact Challenge. According to her, this is a $25 million fund for women, girls, and organizations that support women’s prosperity across the world. The application she said is open till April.
The Development Bank of Nigeria Plc has celebrated International Women’s Day with a seminar and interactive session in support of the movement for gender equality for two consecutive years. The event also provided an opportunity for attendees to build relationships and expand their respective networks.