• Wednesday, April 24, 2024
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“We Are Deploying All Available Platforms To Invest In Our Women”

“We Are Deploying All Available Platforms To Invest In Our Women”

Folashade Ambrose-Medebem, Hon. Comm. for Commerce, Cooperatives Trade & Investment, Lagos State

A communications and sustainability expert with board management level multifaceted experience in Strategy, Finance and Change. With a proven track record of delivering world-class strategic business transformation solutions, leading award winning communication and crisis management business strategies coupled with a skilled ability to build trust, connect culture with the business objective and significantly enhance the bottom-line, reputation and influence of many FTSE 100 companies.

What would you describe as the greatest passion that has brought you this far in your career?

I will describe the greatest passion that has brought me this far as the determination to excel in whatever responsibility or role that is given to me because I know such comes with a lot of trust and I would not want to fail or betray the confidence reposed in me. I am also of the convinced opinion that every position I have held and now holding has corresponding value to deliver and lives to impact. I therefore strive for excellence in all I do to ensure that, with the support of the Team, values are delivered and lives are transformed. Above all, I am very passionate about transformation and sustainability, challenging the status quo, thinking out of the box and exploring new but challenging strategies that foster refreshing perspectives and solution to diverse issues.

Can you share with us some of the programmes the Ministry has for year 2024?

I am really excited to let you know that our Ministry has a lot to deliver in relation to our ministerial mandate as given to us by Mr. Governor, Mr. Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu and these we have grouped into quarterly deliverable for ease of tracking and performance measurement. For instance, we shall be having another Corporate Assembly as revealed by Mr. Governor at the 8th edition held in December last year. This edition is expected to be highly impactful as Mr. Governor shall be inviting many Federal regulatory agencies to discuss issues surrounding the ease of doing business and improved environment for businesses.

We are already doing a lot in the area of investment promotion by engaging with Embassies, High Commissions, Chambers of Commerce along with State and Non-State Actors towards facilitating Foreign Direct Investment, FDI and Direct Domestic Investment, DDI in the State. We are hosting our flagship programme for the MSMEs; Lagos State MSMEs Exclusive Trade Fair and we will still support their participation in other Fairs such as the Lagos International Trade Fair all in the bid to expand their market access, network and gain more exposure and sales.

We are also committed to completing and delivering the Light Industrial Park, Imota for use by industrialists, commence and sustain robust engagement with industrialists through the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, MAN and other Business Membership Organisations, BMOs while we are working to strengthen the cooperative societies so that they can continue to empower their members in diverse productive activities. Overall, we are redefining Government to Business engagements to provide critical after-care support and ensure value addition.

How is the Ministry collaborating with the various Cooperatives societies in the State to promote growth and development?

Cooperatives no doubt play a vital role in the socio-economic dynamics of the State and as such, this administration places great premium on the Cooperative Societies as partners in progress and driver of dividends of democracy for the populace but we need to start on the right footing.

In our quest to ensure that the Cooperative Movement continues to lead by example and deliver quality services to Cooperators based on international best practices, my Team and I met with the Leaders and Trustees where I highlighted our area of priorities to include timely rendition of Annual Accounts for audit such that the Annual General Meeting is held latest by the 2nd quarter of the following year; strict compliance with tenure of Executive Committees as stipulated in the Bye-Laws; zero tolerance to abuse of credit limits and fund misappropriation; employment of standard processes when undertaking investments and employment of technology to deepen their operations, among others.

It is our hope that the leadership of Cooperatives Societies in the State will ensure adherence to all the different aspects of the Law as it will engender good progress and development. The Ministry on its part, as the Regulator of the Cooperative Movement, will ensure prompt and efficient service delivery. It will no longer be business as usual.

This year’s theme for International Women’s Day 2024 is Count Her In: Invest in Women. Accelerate Progress, how do you think this can be achieved in Lagos State?

First, let me say I fully align myself with the drive to deliberately empower women by initiating women-centric investments that will eventually empower them to be productive and contribute to economic development of the nation. Second and back to your question, there is no better time to prioritize women empowerment than now. We must be intentional in going beyond the mundane by consciously including women from the point of policy initiation to implementation.

Interestingly, we have in Lagos State a Governor who is passionately committed to improving the course of women. In fact, Mr. Governor, Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu is the number one He-for-She advocate in the State and through policies, programmes and even appointments; he has been showing his determination to ensure women remain major contributors to the socio-economic and political progress of the State. The State has continued to implement women empowerment programmes through skill acquisition and empowerment, poverty alleviation, financial support and many others through various Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs.

Through our Ministry, we have continued to support Medium Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) mostly owned by women through our Lagos State MSME Exclusive Trade Fair and exhibition inside the Lagos State Pavilion at the Lagos International Trade Fair and at other business expositions. This has allowed them to have more access to market, network, increase their capacity through training and record more sales leading to improved revenue.

We have also started to engage key Federal agencies with the hope to accelerate interventions for them. Recently, the NAADI Lagos Office was opened along with the organisation of capacity building on the opportunities available to MSMEs and guess what, women made up of about 90 percent of the beneficiaries. The truth is that we are deploying all available platforms to invest in our women because we know that if women are adequately supported and empowered, we can accelerate our progress as a people.

How well can you describe the implementation of the affirmative in the country and what other limitations can you ascribe to the seemingly slow progress in the ascendancy of a woman as number one citizen in the country?

I think a lot has been done in this regard and as a result, we have seen quite a number of women assuming various key positions both in the public and private sectors. I can also say authoritatively that we are not yet there. The truth is that men will not just surrender or quit the stage for women to take over in the economic and political space. That is why those of us that have been given the opportunity to serve need to ensure we prove the fact that women can excel in leadership positions when they have such opportunity.

Your advice for the girl child and women as we celebrate IWD 2024?

The celebration of the International Women’s Day remains a unique platform created to expose women to international best practices and principles meant to consolidate their relevance and contributions to our national development. I want to advise our girls and women to remain focused and resolutely determined, they should not lose hope or be discouraged. Our potentials are great and future very bright, the sky can only be our stepping stone if we remain steadfastly committed to rising to the top. And rising we shall!