President Muhammadu Buhari (right) receives Dr Okonjo-Iweala in his office in Abuja, during the WTO chief's visit to Nigeria/Photo: Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

WTO to assist African women entrepreneurs — Okonjo-Iweala

The Director General of World Trade Organisation (WTO), Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has pledged that the organisation would assist African women entrepreneurs to improve their businesses.

Okonjo-Iweala, who recently assumed office at the global organisation, gave the assurance during a visit to Nigeria’s Minister of Women Affairs, Mrs Pauline Tallen, on Wednesday in Abuja.

She said the visit of the WTO delegation was to engage with Nigeria on ways to help improve the economy and trade in Nigeria, as well as show appreciation for their support during her election.

According to her, WTO was also trying to find small business holders and women entrepreneurs in Africa to upgrade their businesses to enable them penetrate both local and international markets.

Okonjo-Iweala, a former Nigeria’s Minister of Finance, revealed that WTO was working to support women entrepreneurs in the country, as it had assisted a women cooperative producing Shea butter in Oyo State to upgrade and export their products.

“The challenge on how to assist women entrepreneurs so that they move from the small activity they are doing to the next level.

“So that they attain the quality that is required to be able to penetrate regional and international markets; that is one of the things that WTO can help with,’’ she said.

The director-general assured that WTO through its programnes, such as the She Trade Initiative, would build the capacity of women traders to enable their business expand.

Okonjo-Iweala also revealed that the WTO was negotiating a round of e-commerce rules that could underpin trade on the internet to make it fair and balance.

This, she said, would enable more women entrepreneurs penetrate the markets through the internet.

“The WTO wants to redress inequality through trade, wants to see trade as an engine of economic growth which is what we need during this pandemic,’’ she said.

The director-general also expressed concern over spates of abduction of school students, which she said would further widen the gap for girl-child education.

She, therefore, urged the government to revive the safe school initiative and secure school environment.

On her part, the wife of the President, Mrs Aisha Buhari, described Mrs Okonjo-Iweala as a role model for Nigerian women, who had served the country with humility, skills and knowledge.

Mrs Buhari, represented by Dr Hajo Sani, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Administration (Office of the First Lady), encouraged other women to play their role as models so that younger generation of women could emulate.

Earlier, the minister of women affairs urged the WTO boss to assist Nigerian women entrepreneurs improve their businesses.

“Nigerian women are great entrepreneurs, they have done so much and so many of them have been so frustrated in their various businesses.

“ God has brought you to this seat to salvage us, to salvage great Nigerian women entrepreneurs, who have left their marks.

“We will compile and showcase all their products and make sure we send them all out to you,’’ Tallen said.

She, therefore, called on Nigerians, particularly women, to support the WTO boss in order to make Nigeria, Africa and the world proud and great.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that various women groups, politicians, National Assembly members, students, military and paramilitary women, CSOs, NGOs and various media organisations were present to receive Okonja-Iweala.

Kola Tella

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