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Women in export trade: What NEPC’s Joe Itah revealed at S/South WEOG 2022

Women in export trade: What NEPC’s Joe Itah revealed at S/South WEOG 2022

Women in Energy, Oil and Gas (WEOG) in the South-South held a one-day summit at the Atlantic Hall of the Hotel Presidential on March 21, 2022 on how to push more women into the sector especially with $40m extracted from the Nigerian Content Fund for women SMEs alone.

At the second panel session, the South-South Zonal Coordinator of the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) was put on stage to tell the top industry women what the Council had in store for women SMEs. He spoke about need or skills and the opportunities already created. Outside, Port Harcourt By Boat cornered Communications expert and administrator to put more light on what he told the panel.

Listen to him: What I mentioned there is that NEPC has gone out of its way because of the interest in promoting women in export value chain to create desks across the nation and we call Women-In-Export Desk which is meant to bring out structures and advocacy for women to enter and participate in export business seamlessly.

Because of that interest to upscale the number of women in export business, it propelled NEPC to enter into a relationship with the International Trade Centre (ITC). In fact the Director-General of the ITC, Arancha Gonzalez, came in July 2016 to launch what we call She-Trades Initiative which was launched by President Muhammadu Buhari with the Vice President in attendance. What it means was that it set a target for sub-Saharan countries to bring in up to three million (3million) women to participate in export business. The portion (quota) to Nigeria was 200,000 women.

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The target was to be met in 2021 but by October, it was already settled (met) and they went into further action including narrowing it to what we call She-Trades in Commonwealth, which brought indices like coordinating the database of women participating in export.

It cascaded to regions and states all around Nigeria. As we speak, 1804 women have been ratified and admitted into the She-Trades scheme with about 40 of them (women-owned businesses and companies) already in the network exporting.

Their target is to conquer the sustainable development goals (SDGs) that have to do with women including hunger, employment, gender equality, fair trade, etc.

Part of what the NEPC is doing to ensure that these women are up to speed and enter seamlessly is to create platforms for them and also make them to acquire non-mandatory certifications such as Food Drugs Administration, Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP). They are difficult to get especially with the harsh conditions that some countries put in place.

Rural women: The value chain caters for all categories of women. The direct exporters may procure the items from rural women. The cooperative system also favours the rural women. The standards are set and those who meet them are included, whether from rural or urban. We look for those that are export-ready. The export world is sophisticated. We have some experts and organisations that help participants.