President Mohammed Buhari

The Federal Government has reiterated it’s commitment towards reviving women owned businesses affected by the covid-19 pandemic across the nation.

The Minister of Women Affairs, Mrs Pauline Tallen disclosed this during the virtual E-Launch of the National Survey on the impact of covid-19 on women-owned businesses in Nigeria in Abuja.

Tallen said the national survey report captured the trends and patterns of the losses due to the pandemic on women owned businesses and made further recommendations in retooling policies to address both the immediate and post COVID-19 strategies, as well as proffer the way forward.

According to her, the government had began implementing this through the on-going UN Women Assisted Palliative Distribution Project in 17 States of the Federation, which targets the poorest of the poor women in the communities.

 She said the project favours only the procurement of  women owned businesses in these States as a measure to revive businesses affected by the pandemic.

“I want to use this medium to assure our women entrepreneurs that we will continue to ensure that we build credible structures to help them revive their businesses.

“We can only achieve this if we patronize women vendors. We have started implementing this through the on-going UN Women Assisted Palliative Distribution Project in 17 States of the Federation targeting the poorest of the poor women in the communities.”

The Minister decried the effects of the covid-19 pandemic on businesses, particularly the supply chain, where majority of women’s owned businesses were situated.

“The pandemic has left in its trails untold hardships and losses, not only on micro-, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), but also making us come to the realisation that the virus would have to live with us, for as long as there is no cure in sight.

“We are all currently experiencing the effects, which have crippled the supply chain of businesses, with dire consequences on MSMEs, where the majority of women’s owned businesses are situated.”

The Minister, therefore stressed the need to address gender gaps in designing COVID-19 response and recovery programs, build strategic partnerships and forge alliances that will be crucial to protect women’s wellbeing and livelihoods.

 She said the Ministry would scale up some projects such as theNational Empowerment Fund (NaWEF), Government Empowerment and Enterprise Programme (GEEP), The Business Development Fund for Women (BUDFOW), the ongoing ECOWAS and Access Bank  50  Million Women Speak  Platform Project (50MWSPP).

Others are the Trust Fund agreement with the United Nations Industrial  Development Organization (UNIDO) to implement the HP-LIFE  entrepreneurship and job creation project, the Nigeria for Women Project (NFWP) and conducting a mapping of state-level interventions on COVID-19.

“The Ministry is engaging with States, relevant government  institutions, NGOs, business groups, PWDs cooperative societies,  elderly cooperative groups and women focused groups to achieve  this. “

Tallen, therefore commended NACCIMA and SME.NG for their efforts and determination in the survey, assuring them that the  government would engage with more stakeholders to secure partnerships for the implementation of the key findings of the survey.

“I want to encourage our partners to not only stop here, but let us together again look at the possibility of conducting a follow-up survey to track the progress of women entrepreneurs recovery.

The Minister also urged policy makers at all levels, development partners and the donor community to adopt the recommendation in the design of immediate and post COVID-19 responses targeting women entrepreneurs. (NAN)