June 13, 2024

The Bank of Industry (BoI) says in line with its support of gender equality and women financial inclusion, it has disbursed $6.02 million out of its $10 million investment commitment to Alitheia Fund.

Managing Director, BoI, Dr Olasupo Olusi, said this at the weekend during the BOI International Women’s Day (IWD) 2024 event with the theme “Inspire Inclusion.”

He was represented by Ms Mabel Ndagi, Executive Director of the Micro Enterprise Directorate, BOI.

Alitheia Fund is a pioneering $100 million gender-lens fund that invests in women-owned, women-led or women-servicing companies across varying sectors.

Olusi said the 2024 IWD’s theme resonated with BOI’s commitment to fostering a diverse and inclusive workplace as well as the bank’s clientele portfolio.

He added that the year’s theme challenges everyone to move beyond the perceived norms and truly embody the principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

On funding for women-owned businesses, the BoI Managing Director stated that the bank was also the local execution partner for the Islamic Development Bank’s Business Resilience Assistance for Value-Adding Services (BRAVE) program in Nigeria.

“This is a $14.27 million initiative that was designed to support women-owned businesses, particularly those living in economically disadvantaged areas arising from conflicts and social unrest.

“As of February 2024, the bank had disbursed the sum of N5.9billion to 551 beneficiaries.

“We are currently working with the African Development Bank (AfDB) on its AFAWA initiative, a pan-African initiative to bridge the $42 billion financing gap women in Africa face,” he said.

Olusi said that BoI had created special funding and business support for female entrepreneurs and made gender funding one of the Bank’s six thematic critical areas of focus and support.

This, he stated, was in line with President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s unwavering commitment to ensuring social inclusion, empowerment for women, and economic support for disadvantaged women and mothers.

“To this end, the results have started manifesting as currently, more girls are enrolled in schools and women now occupy record-breaking positions in government and corporate organisations.

“Businesses are increasingly acknowledging the significance of diversity and intentionally driving the gender inclusion/sensitivity agenda, particularly at the board level.

“To truly “Inspire Inclusion,” we must act and it starts within our organizations by implementing policies that promote gender equality and creating an environment where women can thrive.

“As leaders, we have the responsibility to champion inclusivity by ensuring that our workplaces are free from discrimination and biases,” he said.

He added that achieving full inclusion for women required a proactive and collaborative effort of the Federal Government and sub-nationals, organised private sector, civil societies, and individuals.

Founder, Lagos Fashion Week, Omoyemi Akerele, emphasised the need to adopt sustainability models in the textile industry to contribute greatly to women’s empowerment.

Akerele noted that creativity was community art and its role in the ecosystem contributed significantly to community development.

She, however, stated that unsustainable patterns in textile production contributed to problems of sustainability by leaving a carbon footprint.

“Fashion centres must henceforth be on track to meet its sustainability target and we must be more committed to positioning the fashion sector to a more equitable and sustainable future.

“We must be committed to providing socioeconomic intervention to designers and close the loop system to minimise the environmental impact of waste.

“Designers need to focus on design for durability using renewable or reusable material and we encourage them to extend the product life cycle of materials used. A lot must also be done when it comes to consumer behaviour on sustainability as well and we must keep promoting a culture that allows us to reuse, resell then recycle,” she said.

Founder of Reel Fruits, Affiong Williams, implored aspiring businesses and current entrepreneurs to take steps to be properly positioned for funding or investing.

Williams urged them to make sure they invest time in their ideas to sharpen them, making sure those ideas are investible.

“The quality and amount of time you put into your business idea and the business in general provides the impression needed to help others’ interest in building your business.

“You must find a way to differentiate yourself on value, move with a network that can influence your net worth, take feedback and ensure that every fund is allocated with a plan for turnover that moves the business forward,” she said.

Clinical Psychologist, Psychaid Consult, Dr Ashleigh Osemwegie, urged women to pay more attention to their mental, emotional and physical health and well-being.

She noted that some mental health disorders were more common to women such as anxiety, and depression, among others due to juggling mental and physical load, body image, self-esteem issues and many more.

“To avoid issues with mental health, women must learn to share and outsource domestic and other tasks, prioritise and delegate and relinquish control when necessary.

“It is also very important to engage in physical activity, eat well, particularly food rich in tryptophan which regulates hormones and are natural antidepressants.

“Women must also hydrate well, prioritise getting a good night’s rest, and get regular exercise into their routine for both physical and mental wellness. Do not stay in social isolation or withdrawal, get self-care by finding out what makes you relaxed and brings you joy and doing them,” she said.


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