FG, Stakeholders Partner on Procurement Opportunities for Women Entrepreneurs

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The Federal Government in collaboration with other stakeholders has launched a project on women’s empowerment to improve access to procurement opportunities for women entrepreneurs.

The Minister of Women Affairs, Mrs. Pauline Tallen, at the project launch, ”Women’s Empowerment through Affirmative Procurement Reform in Nigeria” in Abuja, advocated policy reforms in relation to Affirmative Public Procurement.

Tallen, represented by Mr. Idris Mohammed, Director overseeing office of the Permanent Secretary, said the project was supported by the African Development Bank, UN Women and funded by Women’s Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi).

She said the project would promote women inclusion, gender equality and empowerment, inclusive economic growth and national development through enhanced access to public procurement opportunities for women entrepreneurs.

”The launch of this project resonates with our advocacy on advancing economic empowerment for women entrepreneurs through enhanced access to public and private procurement opportunities,” she said.

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She, however, noted challenges that limited access to procurement opportunities for women entrepreneurs to include limited information around the drafting of bids.

According to her, others are lack of technical capacities to execute contract, access to information and networks to respond to procurement calls, long delays in payment from government procuring entities.

“Investing in capacity strengthening for women entrepreneurs to benefit from public procurement alone, would not guarantee their economic empowerment.

” We must first address existing structural barriers that women entrepreneurs face and accelerate action to promote gender-responsiveness across procurement processes, practices and institutions, so that change can happen within a reasonable time frame,” she said.

Ms Beatrice Eyong, UN Women Country Representative to Nigeria and ECOWAS, said the project would aide in empowering women and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“The project launch focuses on inculcating gender responsive procurement processes, as a panacea for advancing economic empowerment to women entrepreneurs,” she said.

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She explained further that the project supports reform and institutional strengthening to improve women led businesses access to public procurement and the development of gender responsive procurement initiatives.

Also, Mr Lansana Wonneh, Deputy Country Representative, UN Women Nigeria said the project seeks to support reform and institutional strengthening to improve women led businesses access to public procurement.

Wonneh, represented by Dr Chukwuomeka Onyimadu, a National Economist with the UNwomen, said they would also support development of gender-responsive procurement as part of COVID-19 response strategies.

According to him, Lagos and Kaduna states are the pilot states to execute the three-year project.

Mr. Sanusi Yero, Director General, Kaduna State Public Procurement Authority, said findings revealed that Women-Led businesses were not actively involved in Public Procurement opportunities.

Yero attributed it to negative public perception, lack of technical capacity, financial capacity and their inability to secure loan, awareness/knowledge gap and fear of sexual abuse, all among others.

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” The existing policies and practices at the states and Federal levels are not gender responsive in their entirety.

” Today, we are here to change that negative trends and practice through Affirmative Procurement.

“The selection of Kaduna and Lagos States as the pilot state and members of the National Steering Committee (NSC) is not by chance but considering the commitments to procurement reforms and sustainability.

” We, therefore, understand the burden and expectations and with the support of the National Steering Committee and the other stakeholders, I assure you success is ours,” he said.

Similarly, the Director-General, Lagos state Public Procurement Agency, Mr Onafowote Fatai-Idowu, reiterated their commitment towards women empowerment and strengthening their capacities. (NAN) (www.nannews.ng)

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