In my previous article, I pointed out that nations of the world including Nigeria will continue to ignore the role of women in economic development to their own detriment. Women make up a huge percentage of Nigeria’s population and therefore it is sacrosanct they be engaged productively for the country to attain the level of development it seeks. According to this article by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) titled “The Impact of Women on Nigeria’s Economy”, the entrepreneurial spirit of women is strong. The article also went ahead to reveal that women account for 41% ownership of micro-businesses in Nigeria with 23 million female entrepreneurs operating within this segment. Despite this, a lot of limitations still confront many women as a report by Council on Foreign Relations (CFR’s) Women and Foreign Policy program reveals that Nigeria’s economy rather than enabling women to contribute to the economy, still has several laws that make it harder for women to work than men.
This article evaluates women’s contribution to economic sustainability both in Nigeria and in other parts of the world, highlighting the impacts made by a few women:
- Tara Fela-Durotoye: The founder of the House of Tara – Tara is a Nigerian who owns the House of Tara beauty house which she started at age 20. Today Tara has over 3000 representatives spread across the country and 14 stores. For many today, Tara remains an inspiration and mentor. Tara’s House of Tara has created employment for over 100 Nigerians and has significantly contributed to the Nigerian economy. Forbes listed her as one of 20 Young Power Women in Africa.
- Adenike Ogunlesi: Adenike is the founder of Ruff ‘n’ Tumble – a leading designer, manufacturer and retailer of children’s clothing in Nigeria. It is recognized as one of Nigeria’s and West Africa’s top manufacturers of children’s clothing. Ruff n Tumble has 17 stores across five cities in the country since its existence in 1998 and has employed over 150 Nigerians.
- Nkemdilim Begho is the founder of Future of Software Resources Limited – an IT solution, e-learning and IT security company. She has been able to make impact in the IT space as a woman. She regularly volunteers for mentoring and empowerment programmes often sharing her experiences with young Nigerians and less privileged children. She has directly employed over 10 Nigerians.
- Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala – According to Forbes, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, a former Minister of Finance, Nigeria, helped the country’s economy to grow an average of 6% per annum for over 3 years. Also, she was credited with developing reforms that helped improve governmental transparency, and stabilizing the economy. She has served in many boards and currently serve as a Board Chair of GAVI – the vaccine alliance. She has inspired thousands of women and counting.
- Njeri Rionge – According to this article by africa.com, Njeri is a pioneer investor in the IT sector in Africa, having co-founded Wananchi Online, East Africa’s first mass market internet service provider which has grown to become the region’s leading internet company. Njeri also imparts knowledge and skills to young entrepreneurs in her country and helps them grow their own business. Wananchi has become immensely successful, so much that it has raised close to $60 million in growth capital from a consortium private equity firms. WANANCHI GROUP KENYA LTD has over 19 employees across all of its locations and generates $2.30 million in sales.
- Folorunsho Alakija – Folorunsho Alakija is Africa’s second wealthiest woman, estimated by Forbes to be worth $2.1 billion. She owns a range of businesses which has enabled her greatly impact the Nigerian economy not only through job creation but by providing essential services to the people. One of the companies she heads as chairwoman, FAMFA OIL LIMITED has 30 total employees across all of its locations and generates $8.64 million in sales.
- Ibukun Awosika – Ibukun became the first woman to be appointed Chairman of First Bank of Nigeria on September 7, 2015, after the resignation of Prince Ajibola Afonja. She sits on the board of several organizations including Nigerian Sovereign Wealth Fund, Women in Management, Business and Public Service (WIMBIZ), etc. An author and motivational, her career has inspired thousands of young women to dare to dream and take advantage of every opportunity that comes her way. Her work at First Bank of Nigeria has also contributed significantly to the growth of the bank over the cause of the five years since she assumed office as Chairman.
- Bridgette Radebe – Bridgette, according to africa.com, is South Africa’s first black female mining entrepreneur and president of the largest mining chamber – the South Africa Mining Development Association. Bridgette is a shining example that women power is unstoppable.
These women and many others like them have succeeded in creating jobs, providing services, paying taxes, and thereby adding to the GDP of their country. Imagine the level of economic growth and independence that will be achieved when greater access and opportunities are given to all women in Nigeria, no matter their location. According to the CFR Women and Foreign Policy Program’s new digital report, Growing Economies Through Gender Parity, which visualizes data from the McKinsey Global Institute, Nigeria’s gross domestic product (GDP) could grow by 23 percent—or $229 billion—by 2025 if women participated in the economy to the same extent as men. In corroboration, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) asserts that strengthening gender equality in Nigeria could be an economic game-changer, leading to higher productivity and greater economic stability. These cannot be emphasized enough.
Nigeria’s economy will do far better than it is doing now when all women are allowed the opportunity to contribute to the economy. The contribution of the women highlighted in this article to economic sustainability is a testament to their involvement in various sectors of the economy. More opportunities must therefore be created for women to be involved in all sectors of the economy to the same extent as men, and the earlier this is achieved, the better for the country.
This article was written by Ogechi Ekejiuba