• Tuesday, May 28, 2024
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BusinessDay

WIMBIZ, leading women to become catalysts of positive change

WIMBIZ

Women in Management, Business and Public Service (WIMBIZ), a Nigerian based non-profit organisation was formed in 2001 by 14 individuals. WIMBIZ has an overriding vision ‘to be the catalyst that elevates the status and influence of women and their contribution to nation building’. Their programs are also geared towards increasing the success rate of female entrepreneurs and the proportion of women in senior positions in corporate organizations. They are also a volunteer-based organization, funded largely by donations and contributions by members and participants.

In show of appreciation, they recently had a glamorous dinner for the trustees, friends and supporters of WIMBIZ at the Eko Hotels and Suites. It was a gathering of various Leading Women and distinguished personalities who despite their busy schedules made it to the event.

The event kicked off with networking and cocktails even as guests later enjoyed a soothing atmosphere of music, poetry and dance.

The program was anchored by a member of the Board of trustees, Morin Desalu whose birthday coincidentally was same day as the event and she was celebrated and surprised with a beautiful birthday cake after which the ‘Happy Birthday’ song was rendered to her by everyone.

Next to come up was the Chairman, WIMBIZ Board of Trustees, Ifeoma Idigbe and the summary of all she said is what you are about to read.

As a well-established brand, WIMBIZ was invited to participate in the 2014 National Conference as one of the women organisations. WIMBIZ was represented at the conference by the chairman, WIMBIZ Board of Trustees, Ifeoma Idigbe and their proposals were adopted by the conference. The first matter proposed was that a formal mentoring platform be established for young men and women. They proposed among other things that unemployed youths be given six month mentoring attachments as part of company’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programmes. However, WIMBIZ already runs mentoring programs and attach young women to mentors who are associates or friends of WIMBIZ.

The second proposal includes easier access to loans for women’s businesses. According to Ifeoma, “The National Conference accepted our proposal that all banks create a gender desk for women and assign a proportion of their loan portfolios for lending to women. It is common knowledge that women often find it difficult to access loans for the start-up or expansion of their businesses even though they have excellent repayment records.” Ifeoma says.

The third and critically, is that board of all organisations whether government owned or publicly quoted on the Nigerian Stock Exchange should have at least a 25percent representation of women. The conference recommended compliance with the President’s policy of 35percent.

As a result of this, WIMBIZ has introduced the WimBoard initiative for placing women on the Boards of companies. WimBoard has three functions. First is to carry out advocacies such as was engaged in at the National Conference to bring their case to national consciousness and be catalysts for national change.

Second is to maintain a database of capable, Board-ready women who are qualified for immediate Board appointments. WIMBIZ has started to provide names to companies who wish to increase the participation of women on their Boards, on request.

Thirdly is that WIMBIZ has just set up an institute dedicated to running programmes to prepare women in management for Board appointments. The WimBoard institute has developed two programmes at the moment, in collaboration with Lagos Business School and IE Business School in Madrid, both of which are acclaimed international business schools. Participants can attend either programme which has online and face-to-face components.

Sharing with all invited guests the purpose of the occasion, Ifeoma says “The primary purpose of this occasion is to express our gratitude for past favours and support, but like Oliver Twist, we will ask for more! There is no end to this journey that WIMBIZ has embarked upon…men will continue to marry women (we hope), and have daughters who will in their turn have daughters of their own. We are committed to staying the course and ensuring that women are able to reach their full potential and make significant contributions to national development and national life” she says.

Guests at the event included Aliko Dangote, Hakeem Belo-Osagie, Ifueko Omoigui, members of WIMBIZ Board of Trustees, members of WIMBIZ executive council, Team members to mention a few.

Kemi Ajumobi