US, Ascend Foundation partner to train women entrepreneurs on financial management

The United States of America, working with a local partner – Ascend Studios Foundation has trained 250 women entrepreneurs drawn across the country in core business and financial management skills.

The two-day training themed ‘Academy of Women Entrepreneurs’ trained the women entrepreneurs on various aspects of business development to be able to scale their businesses sustainably.

The programme is a US government initiative targeted at empowering women and providing a guide for them to run their businesses successfully.

Speaking at the event held at Ife Grand Resort, Ile-Ife, Osun state recently, Inya Lawal, president, Ascend Studios Foundation, said that despite the fact women entrepreneurs in the country are resilient and hard-working, they still rank low in financial management.

Lawal, who said some of the growth opportunities that the participants had discovered in the course of the programme, would still require adequate funding.

To address this, she called for more financial training for women entrepreneurs, especially in the area of financial management.

“Nigerian women entrepreneurs are resilient. They are the most resilient people I have ever met. They are resilient, hardworking. The economy has its challenges that we are all aware of and through those challenges, these women are churning out fantastic products,” she said.

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“These products will compete with those you find at international markets where the economy is more conducive. That speaks to the kind of women will have in Nigeria. They are resilient, innovative, and extremely hardworking.

“Many women still use their personal accounts for business. They don’t even separate what they spend personally from what they spend on the business.

“I think it is very important to train women in that aspect. It is not all about giving them money, it is about teaching them how to sustain the money that has been given to them as well. The two have to go side by side,” she further said.

According to her, the idea behind the programme was to assist women entrepreneurs to scale their enterprises sustainably.

She noted that the US African Development Foundation is in partnership with the Academy of Women Entrepreneurs and yearly supports women-led businesses with funding opportunities.

She added that her organisation has also partnered with Lagos State Empowerment Trust Fund to support women entrepreneurs with funding.

“We need more and more of those opportunities because it can never be enough. Most importantly, I think training needs to come with funding.”

She added that the programme has also allowed the participants to scale up their businesses, as the facilitators who are experts in various fields, would teach the women in detail how to run their businesses.

She further explained that the programme also enabled participants to network with other business owners and solve some personal business challenges even within the group.

On how the participants were selected, Lawal said, “The programme will have a platform called Dream Builder, which runs several courses. It is an online programme, 13 of them and they are all core business courses. The platform teaches everything related to business from finance to management, to marketing.

“Anyone who took the programme would have a crash business course. In 2019 when we started the programme, we got about 6,000 plus applications, in 2020 we got about 10,000 applications, in 2021, we got 15,500 applications.

“Our college of readers, composed of about 100 people, after analysing the applications will then select the participants. In 2019, we selected 100, in 2020, we selected 120 and in 2021, we selected 250 participants,” she stated.

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