The Imo Government has pledged to increase its support for women entrepreneurs in the state through access to loans.The state’s Commissioner for Women Affairs and Vulnerable Groups, Mrs Nkechinyere Ugwu, made the pledge at a sensitisation workshop for businesswomen and their support providers.The workshop was organised by the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) and the International Trade Centre (ITC), in Owerri on Wednesday.
Ugwu, who commended the women for their resilience in spite of numerous economic challenges, promised to help them access loans for their businesses. She thanked Gov. Hope Uzodimma for providing the enabling environment for women-owned businesses to thrive in the state and pledged continued support for women-friendly initiatives. “Despite the numerous challenges facing businesses in the country and beyond, you, our businesswomen, have remained resilient and we are proud of you. “The state government will continue to support you financially and otherwise so as to improve our economy, improve livelihoods and maintain our place in the comity of states,” she said. In his remarks, NEPC’s Executive Director, Mr Ezra Yakusak, said that 25 Business Support Organisations (BSOs) had already been listed in the NEPC’s directory.Yakusak, represented by NEPC’s Trade Promotion Advisor in Imo, Mr Anthony Ajuruchi, called on women exporters to avail themselves of the financial and other forms of support. “Today, we are providing detailed information on various services offered by BSOs and the process of accessing the services and we’re doing on-the-spot registration with BSOs for those who cannot register on their own. “Many women are not benefitting from the BSOs for lack of information and sensitisation, hence this workshop,” he said.Ajuruchi, in his address, said that the programme, a brainchild of the Women in Export division of NEPC’s Export Development and Incentives Department, was designed to move the business landscape in Imo to the next level.He mentioned some of the BSOs to include women associations, cooperatives, government and Non Governmental Organisations.“One of the aims of the BSO directory project is to close the gap between women entrepreneurs and BSOs who can help them to grow their businesses.“Knowledge is power and we shall continue to seek it for entrepreneurs in Imo to build their capacity”, he said.Also, Vice President of the Imo Exporters League, Mrs Amaka Onwumere, urged women exporters to identify with the League so as to have increased access to vital information and available incentives.The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the event was attended by businesswomen, entrepreneurs and exporters from various parts of the state.VIN