• Wednesday, April 24, 2024
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BOI disburses $6.02m to women-owned businesses

BOI disburses $6.02m to women-owned businesses

The Bank of Industry (BOI) has disbursed $6.02 million out of its $10 million investment commitment to Alitheia Fund in support for gender equality and women’s financial inclusion.

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

Olasupo Olusi, managing director of BOI, announced the disbursement at the BOI International Women’s Day 2024 event with the theme ‘Inspire Inclusion’. He was represented by Mabel Ndagi, executive director of the micro enterprise directorate.

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“The year’s theme challenges everyone to move beyond the perceived norms and truly embody the principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion,” he said.

He stated that on funding for women-owned businesses, the bank was also the local execution partner for the Islamic Development Bank’s Business Resilience Assistance for Value-Adding Services programme in Nigeria.

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

Olusi stated 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.

He said this 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.

He said: “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 board level.

“To truly ‘Inspire Inclusion’ we must act and it starts within our organisations 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 achieving full inclusion for women required proactive and collaborative effort of the Federal Government and sub-nationals, organised private sector, civil societies, and individuals.

Omoyemi Akerele, founder of Lagos Fashion Week, emphasised the need to adopt sustainability models in the textile industry to contribute greatly to women 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.

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“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.