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Race toward $10bn Train-7: New drive for women businesses in Bonny

...as BOCCIMA brings experts to groom female investors

As kick-off of the $10bn Train 7 project draws close, the Bonny community said they would be more prepared for business opportunities instead of scrambling only for jobs slots. The leaders have also determined that women would have to get prepared to join in the expected scramble.
On this score, experts have revealed business windows and opportunities that may be waiting for women business owners on the island. Over 60 women received support while about 12 firms displayed their products and services at the physical venue.

Now, the island chamber, the Bonny Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (BOCCIMA), has embarked on a scheme to groom business women on the island and prompt other women to join businesses. They have so far used the International Women’s Day (IWD) to bring female investors and entrepreneurs together in Bonny and beyond.

In the 2021 edition, BOCCIMA targeted Bonny women entrepreneurs and lured others to come for support. According to the Director-General (DG), Constance Nwokejiobi, who moderated the mixed event, it focused on creating opportunities for women-owned businesses to be known and to connect with business prospects. It had clear objective including to build a business network for business owners, sensitize women for business, aid the community through charity, and to project BOCCIMA to the community and beyond.

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The keynote speaker, Sarah Ajose Adeogun, Manager, Community Content Business Development of SPDC, who spoke on local content supplier diversity, pointed out a wide range of available support for female owned businesses which were shared and she encouraged women to belong to groups that can help in mentoring.

She made it clear that knowledge is power. The opportunities and windows shown to them seemed to cause excitement as the participants were thrilled with the awareness created at the event and sought further clarifications on how to participate effectively.

Adeogun said diversity is understood in the oil industry to mean a business that is at least 51 per cent owned and operated by an individual or group that is a part of traditionally underrepresented or underserved group.

She also used same definition to explain a business owned by a woman. More highlights were shed on why local content policy was made in Nigeria, the Nigerian Oil & Gas Industry Content Development Act (NOGICD) and how it works, the community content guideline and how it works and the local content supplier diversity support.

Ajose-Adeogun stated that SPDC was leveraging on various legal and other frameworks instituted by the government to ensure women inclusion in the business space such as the Nigerian oil and Gas Content Development (NOGICD) Act 2010 and the Community Content Guidelines (CCG) of the Nigerian Content Development Monitoring Board (NCDMB), among others.

According to her, SPDC was committed to ensuring women inclusion across the spectrum of its business environment, stressing, however, that the women must take their chances and compete favourably with the men, pointing out that “we won’t distinguish between men and women but if the women step up we will give them the same consideration we will give the men, but they have step up and step into the game”.

BOCCIMA thus through the DG encouraged the women to participate in seminars as well as make out time to seek financial and business development advisories for their business plans. She encouraged the women to tap into the awareness created by the keynote speaker from SPDC and participate effectively to break the barrier of inclusion of women in businesses due to lack of information.

The president of BOCCIMA, Lawrence Jumbo, said the goal of the chamber’s business inclusion drive was to create more business moguls, especially, among the women, justifying the theme: “Women Inclusion in Business” in Bonny, Rivers State, Nigeria jointly organized by BOCCIMA and Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC).

The president, represented by his deputy, Vincent Furo, who is a former president of the Port Harcourt Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (PHCCIMA), stated that women have the innate resources to achieve whatever they aspired to. He urged them to take advantage of the various opportunities being availed them by the chamber.

He declared that women would grow to become like Dangote and Adenuga. He explained that the NACCIMA Business Women Group (NAWORG), which is the women wing of the National Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), was established with a view to expanding the scope of opportunities for women and enhance their capacity to compete with their male counterparts.

He commended the Director General of BOCCIMA, Constance Nwokejiobi, for the success of the two day event, and expressed appreciation to the Chairperson of NAWORG, Rivers State Chapter, Oriaku Oyet-Ile, for her support to the chamber and the insight she has continued to provide the chamber in its quest to build the capacity of women businesses in Bonny LGA.

Oriaku Oyet-Ile, on her own, urged women in NACCIMA to come together and move things, especially in Bonny. “Nobody hands anybody anything on a platter of gold. If you want something, go for it. In most cases where people are complaining that ‘oh they didn’t do this, they didn’t do that’, what did you come for? What do you want and what are you willing to put out to get what you want? NAWORG is a platform for that and we will see how we can maximize the various opportunities.”

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