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The Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Amb. Mariam Yalwaji Katagum has said that the Federal Government was committed to boosting the economy through gender focused activities that foster an enabling environment and stimulate economic activities for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).

The Minister stated this during the launch of African Women Entrepreneurship Program (AWEP) Promotion of Women Empowerment and Rights( Power – Project) in Abuja today.

Amb Katagum said the occasion was to bring to knowledge the expected roles for the actualization of the noble cause, most especially some of the opportunities that the Federal Government has created for MSMEs and the passion for the empowerment of women at the grass root level in all the States.

The Minister listed some of the activities which included,
“MSMEs Survival Fund (Nigeria Economic Sustainability Plan) which provides 45% opportunities for women,
Registration of Businesses; 250,000 business names were captured through this program and most businesses that were yet to be registered were given the opportunity to be registered free of charge. Also, Linkages with relevant stakeholders for qualitative and quantitative products and packaging through the Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON).
Access to Market through Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), and the N50billion Export Expansion Facility (EEF).
Access to credit of which government has encouraged local finance houses and banks to create special windows for women”, the Minister stated.

The Minister expressed optimistic that the project would definitely provide women with knowledge and opportunities to access the market, finance, rights and exposure to new business opportunities by using what we have to meet our needs.

Amb. Katagum further stated that ” The project is highly commendable and strategic, as this will help the Federal Government of Nigeria and the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, in particular, to actualize one of its objectives to boost the development of Micro, Small, Medium Enterprises in the FCT and Nasarawa State as it illustrates active state participation and ownership”.

She reaffirmed the commitment of the Federal of Industry, Trade and Investment to deepen collaboration and working relationship with Ministries, Departments and Agencies and it’s parastatals to improve the lot of women.

She added that, “With the onset of trading under the AFCFTA, a clarion call for all women MSMEs is to stand up and support the gesture of the government do so as to achieve the economic development and growth of our GDP, no matter how small, for the overall development of the nation”.

In his welcome remarks, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Dr. Nasir Sani-Gwarzo acknowledged that the economic development of women and girls bring benefits to the welfare of their families and the society in general.

The Permanent Secretary who who was represented by the Deputy Director Gender in the Ministry further stated that “Effort should be put in place for necessary mechanisms required for the elimination of gender discrimination so as to ensure gender parityis strengthened. If women are granted their pride of place in history, this gesture and development will assist the process of effectively eradicating poverty, end hunger, achieve food security, ensure healthy lives and stimulates sustainable development”

The Permanent Secretary congratulated and applauded the leadership and co-founders of AWEP for the initiative and assured them of the Ministry’s continuous collaboration to actualize the project locally and nationally in the promotion of Women Empowerment and Right.

Earlier in her welcome address, the National President of African Women Entrepreneurship Programme (AWEP),Mrs. Angela Ajala appreciated the Aspire Coronation Trust Foundation (ACT) for collaborating with AWEP to train 600 women beneficiaries from ten communities in the Federal Capital Territory and Nasarawa State.

Mrs. Ajala explained that the training would provide the knowledge and necessary skills to help beneficiaries succeed in life.

She said “The training will take you through the basic skills and knowledge of the following:
Group formation and benefits
Agriculture as a business
Entrepreneurship and Business Management
Record Keeping
Marketing and access to markets
Financial Management”.

She therefore challenged all trainees and participants to use the opportunity wisely to change their lives, impact their communities and change the poverty trap narrative in many communities.

Part of the highlights of the event was the presentation of the maiden edition of the National Directory of AWEP to the Minister.

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