Women & Business

Women & Business

Polaris Bank to Empower Female-Owned Businesses with N1bn Loans

In a move towards fostering gender equality, inclusiveness and economic empowerment, Polaris Bank has announced the disbursement of business support loans to female-owned businesses in the first quarter of 2023. This is part of the Bank’s commitment to supporting women and female-owned businesses through the provision of soft loans.


According to the Bank, the disbursement of the loans which impacted close to 20,000 beneficiaries across different sectors, is aimed at addressing the existing financing gap and providing a vital boost to female entrepreneurs. This is expected to help them to thrive, expand their operations, and contribute to the nation’s economic growth.


The sectors impacted include: Transportation; Agriculture; Education; Construction; Engineering; General Commerce; Health; Hotel & Leisure; Manufacturing and Media.


Part of the major selling point for the loan at Polaris Bank are quick turnaround time, instant disbursement, Flexible Terms and Conditions, Competitive pricing, Financial Education and Mentorship, amongst other value adding features. Polaris Bank envisions a future where female-owned businesses play an increasingly influential role in driving economic progress, innovation, and job creation. The bank firmly believes that empowering women entrepreneurs will contribute to a more prosperous and equitable society.


Within the quarter, the Bank also celebrated the International Women’s day (IWD) with a well-attended webinar titled: Advancing Women Empowerment through the Adoption of Technological Innovation and Digital Education”. During the webinar, availability of a single digit interest loan was re-echoed to women entrepreneurs that meet the set criteria. This is in line with Polaris Bank’s commitment to the Nigerian Sustainable Banking Principles.


Speaking on the development, Polaris Bank’s Group Head, Brand Management and Corporate Communication, Nduneche Ezurike, said, “At Polaris Bank, we are dedicated to building an inclusive economy that fosters opportunities for all. We recognize the immense talent and potential of women entrepreneurs and understand the challenges they face. Through our women and female-owned business loan window, we aim to break down barriers and provide the financial support necessary for businesses being run by women to flourish.”


Women entrepreneurs interested in scaling their business to the next level are encouraged to visit Polaris Bank’s website, or contact any of the Bank’s nearest branch to learn more about the application process and eligibility criteria.


Polaris Bank was adjudged Digital Bank of the Year in 2021 and 2022 in BusinessDay’s Banks And Other Financial Institutions Award (BAFI). It also emerged as the best MSME Bank because of its ability to use technology to enable bottom-up support to the MSME sector.

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Women & Business

Women’s Cooperative Revolving Fund with Basic Business and Life Skills Transforms Livelihoods for Better

UN Women in collaboration with SOS Sahel Ethiopia has been applying the approach to four cooperatives and enterprises of 200 members, which comprise more than 1000 family members

According to Fantu Alemayehu, a young woman member of a saving and credit cooperative established  in Galan town,  a peri-urban area in Oromia region of Ethiopia, the 3000 birr equivalent of 86USD she borrowed three years ago along the training she received on Basic Business and Life Skills meant a turning point for the better life her family and herself are in today.   Fantu explains, “Sixteen years ago I dropped out of school from grade eight and  migrated from a rural area in Northern Ethiopia,  Gojam to Addis Ababa seeking for a better life.  I worked as a housekeeper for eight years earning only 70birr per month. When I didn’t see improvement in my life, I got married. Although my husband is a supportive one, his little income from provision of cart transport service to the villagers, was not enough to meet our basic needs.”

When the Gender Transformative Climate Smart Agriculture and Agri–Business (CSAAB) program launched by UN Women and SOS Sahel Ethiopia in  Galan town, Fantu became among the beneficiaries.  As a result, she says that not only hers and her family’s livelihoods have changed, she also became a model woman in her village for effectively using the loan and the skills she acquired, “When I received 3000 birr, during the rainy season I bought Gurage cabbage seedlings, which has a high demand in the community, and planted in my garden. The 10,000birr income from sale of the cabbage, the seedlings, and the dry seeds,  was the turning point for me and my family’s living conditions improvement. After I paid back the 3,000birr loan, I used part of the 7,000birr to invest in sheep fattening for sale.  Today, I am no longer dependent on my husband’s income to purchase what  I need. For instance, because of the labour and fuel saving Injera baker I bought, the smoke from the old baker is no more affecting my health.”

Being economically  empowered  not only enabled Fantu to support her existing family in a better way, she also realized her dream of having a second child, “When I gave birth to my first child six years ago, the burden on the little income increased and my husband and myself used to struggle for survival. When our livelihood improved,  we decided to have the second child and it has been only 50 days  since I gave birth.”

As a model woman in her community, Fantu was awarded  25,000birr  on business award competition  for successfully using the 3,000birr loan and  timely repaying.  This motivated her  to expand her business  and  to contribute more to her community,  “ Since I became beneficiary of the program, I have saved 40,000birr including the award.  If I sale the six sheep I currently own, I  estimate to have  50,000birr more and  my  short-term plan is to purchase  goats and fatten for sale as they take shorter time to  breed. My support to the women in the community will continue by sharing my experiences and by providing them with improved Gurage  cabbage seedlings.”  Fantu added that her  husband,  Buziye Yibeltal is one of the reasons behind her success. He supports her in the household duties including cooking after he took the training on Male Engagement and  Gender Model family offered under the program.

UN Women in collaboration with SOS Sahel Ethiopia has been applying the approach to four cooperatives and enterprises of 200 members, which comprise more than 1000 family members. The cooperative  in Galan town has fifty four  members.  A weekly contribution of  100birr  by  each member has reached their saving to 190,000birr. This is enabling more members to borrow from the revolving fund and  to invest in various businesses to improve theirs and their families’ livelihoods.

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Women & Business

Airtel Restates Commitment to Bridging Gender Divide, Launches Airtel Women Network

Airtel Nigeria has reinforced its commitment to driving gender equity as they launched the Airtel Women network at Airtel Headquarters on Thursday, 30th March 2023.

Former Securities and Exchange Commission boss, Arunma Oteh, led the conversation as the keynote speaker, on the theme “Empowering Global Leaders”, where she shared her experience and lectured female employees on becoming global leaders.

Chief Executive Director, Krishna Menon, who was represented by the Director of Airtel Business, Ogo Ofomata, described Airtel Women Network as a coaching platform to empower and mentor women to become global leaders while breaking stereotypes and closing gender gaps.

“We are an equal opportunity employer and it is embedded in our DNA to be fair, just and respectful. Airtel is committed to women advancement and achievements, both internally and externally, and out of many other initiatives, we have recently demonstrated this through our premium social investment platform ‘Airtel Touching Lives. Through ‘Airtel Touching Lives’, we have not only provided relief and succor to thousands of Nigerians but we have also thrown our full weight behind the Nigerian woman, helping them own their craft and even empowering women in technology” she said.

Also speaking at the event, Director, Human Resources, Airtel Nigeria, Adebimpe Ayo-Elias, said, “Over the years Airtel women have contributed immensely to the success of the organizations and Airtel recognizes this and is committed to ensuring that the women thrive. We are currently at 25% and our target is to grow women’s representation at top-level management to 30% before the end of the year. To generally drive women inclusion, especially in technology, part of what Airtel has done is to promote digital financial inclusion by registering and training women as Smartcash PSB agents, at no cost”.

Aunmanh Oteh, while delivering her keynote speech and interacting with the employees, commended the brand for driving gender equity and also commended the male employees of Airtel for supporting women to launch of Airtel Women Network.
“The ability of any brand like Airtel to bring innovations like this means that they can do better than the others. I like that Airtel is being intentional about women empowerment and they recognize that they are not doing women a favor, rather empowering women is good for the business”, she concluded.

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Women & Business

BusyBee Academy, Weddings Beautiful Africa Sign MoU to Offer International Wedding Planning Certification Course in Nigeria

BusyBee Academy Africa, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with an International Event School Weddings Beautiful Africa, as the only licensed training centre in Nigeria to offer the International Wedding Planning Certification Course.  Weddings Beautiful Africa is a subsidiary of Wedding Beautiful Worldwide based in the United States of America on knowledge exchange and training of the new generation wedding planners.

The agreement was signed today (Tuesday, January 17th, 2023) at the head office of BusyBee Academy Africa in Yaba Lagos by Founder, BusyBee Academy, Coach Bisi Sotunde, and Managing Partner Wedding Beautiful Africa, Côte d’Ivoire Astou Djamat-Dubois, present also was Academy Director, Mr. Tunji Ajadi, Co-Managing Partner, Weddings Beautiful Africa, Cinthia Aka  and other representatives from the Alumni Network of Weddings Beautiful Africa.

BusyBee Academy Africa’s vision has been to be one of the leading event training schools stemming from Africa to the world, and by this development the school is gradually moving towards achieving that dream.

Addressing the press after the signing ceremony, Mrs. Sotunde stated that by virtue of this MoU Agreement, BusyBee Academy Nigeria has the authority to train students and issue that certificate backed by the Wedding Beautiful Africa and Weddings Beautiful International.

She said “This landmark agreement would further strengthen the event management industry in Nigeria as the Academy now assumes an international status. Established and intended professionals in the event industry in Nigeria are availed with state-of-the-art intentionally recognised academy,”

“Professionals do not have to travel abroad for training because BusyBee Academy Africa is a one-stop event management school recognised worldwide,” she added.

An elated Astou Djamat- Dubois while speaking on the agreement stated that Africa has some of the best professionals in the industry globally and the pact between the duo would further reinforce the continent’s position at the global level.

“Prior to the agreement, BusyBee Academy Africa has already attained global status. This pact is an icing on the cake and we believe that the academy should be able to train and issue certification on behalf of the Weddings Beautiful International, a parent body worldwide,” Astou Djamat-Dubois enthused.

BusyBee Academy has evolved over the years, with a wide range of offerings; from event planning and decoration courses, online event planning course, advanced event planning course, mentoring programs, executive masterclass, business summits and runs a thriving community called The Well-Watered Garden Tribe Nation.

The academy, in the last 11 years, has trained, mentored and helped over 1500 event professionals in the industry home and abroad. It has also expanded its operations into offering Rental Hub Services – Rental of meeting rooms, board rooms, and virtual office plans etc.

BusyBee Academy Africa is the only training centre in Nigeria that has the license to train and issue students on International Wedding Planning Certification under the Weddings Beautiful International Network.

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Women & Business

Solape Akinpelu of HerVest Unveils Book ‘Stripped’ to Bridge the Gender Finance Gap 

In alignment with global initiatives from leading organisations such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and World Bank among others, Solape Akinpelu, the Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of HerVest, Nigeria’s leading fintech social enterprise dedicated to providing financial inclusion for women through a Gender Lens Investment (GLI) approach, has authored a book dedicated to providing learnings, opportunities and sustainable initiatives to help women build wealth that transcends generations.

The book, ‘Stripped: An African Woman’s Guide to Building Generational Wealth’, is an evidence-based body of work with practical and actionable steps for African women towards bridging the economic gender gap and building transgenerational wealth across the globe.

According to IMF data, in sub-Saharan Africa, only 37 per cent of women have a bank account, compared with 48 per cent of men, a gap that has only widened over the past several years. The figures are even worse in North Africa, where about two-thirds of the adult population remains unbanked and the gender gap for access to finance is 18 per cent, the largest in the world.

To bridge the widening gender gap, there is a need for sustainable solutions that helps in achieving the desired impact across sectors. To this end, ‘Stripped’ serves to answer the burning questions and allay the commonest fears that most African women have when it comes to managing their money and building wealth.

Speaking the launch of the book to financial experts and development stakeholders in Lagos, the author, Solape Akinpelu said; “In Africa, the gender gap in access to financial services is driven by women entrepreneurs’ self-perception. Such perception leaves many African women on the fringes of the financial sector—unable to save, borrow, or build capital. The book was written to inspire African women to move past their barriers and create wealth, to make a positive impact in their societies and the world at large that will transcend generations to come.”

She added that: “The issues hindering gender finance are hyper-connected. You simply cannot talk about gender issues without addressing the gap in tech, healthcare, maternal care, unpaid care, gender-based violence, women in the workplace and more. The economic gender gap we see today estimated at $42bn is the symptom of all off these connected issues. Stripped indeed provides answers and guidelines to passing on your wealth to loved ones, giving them a bright start. When you read the book, you are going to be inspired; be more action-oriented and we have built HerVest for you to activate that journey.”

L-R: Associate Dean, Lagos Business School, Olayinka David- West; MD/CEO FSDH Merchant Bank, Bukola Smith; CEO/Co-Founder, HerVest, Solape Akinpelu; MD Meristem Trustees, Damilola Hassan and Deputy Director, Enterprise Development Centre, Nneka Okekearu, during the launch of Stripped: An African Woman’s Guide to Building Generational Wealth authored by Solape Akinpelu in Lagos.

In her remarks during the launch, the Managing Director/CEO, FSDH Merchant Bank, Bukola Smith said; “This book is a confidence booster for those who feel they know little about savings and investment. You are in for a journey of self-discovery and hopefully, self-actualisation.”

As we strive for more representation for women in Africa’s social and economic infrastructure, it is also essential we teach women and the next generation of female entrepreneurs, not just how to make money but how to build wealth.

Stripped: An African Woman’s Guide to Building Generational Wealth is available on leading book-selling platform Roving Heights via – and Amazon –

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Women & Business

Nigerian Women Face More Challenges In Economic Participation –New Research 

Research by the Enhancing Financial Innovation and Access (EFInA), has showed worrying challenges facing Nigerian women as they strive to partake in nations’ building.


The research was commissioned by the development Research and Project Centre (dRPC) under the Partnership for Advancing Women in Economic Development (PAWED) project and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The national coordinator, PAWED coalition, Barrister Vera Ndanusa, in a statement, said the research was commissioned to assess women economic empowerment in Nigeria focusing on women’s access and use of financial services as well as highlighting opportunities for women’s economic empowerment.

“The scope of women’s economic empowerment in this report is on , socio economic activities (income, education & technology use), access to resources (physical, social and financial), access to and use of financial services, financial health and capability, autonomy, and participation in community (labour, political etc)” She said.

She added that the insights shared in the report is based on secondary data analysis using the Access to Financial Services in Nigeria 2020 survey dataset, desk research, and key informant interviews with women economic collective leaders across interest states in Nigeria.

According to Ndanusa, the research findings shows that about 51 per cent of adult women have attained secondary education. Women who live in urban areas have more chances at attaining secondary education. She added that women were less likely to have the necessary knowledge/skills to plan, budget finance, and choose financial products to satisfy their needs.

‘’Women generally lack knowledge of the financial options available to them, and the Nigerian women are predominantly business owners and significantly under-represented in formal salaried wage employment’’ She added.

Accordingly, the researchers recommends that government should enforce policies and social protection systems for women like pensions, unemployment benefits, maternity protection, and equal pay, revise, adopt, and enforce legislation that mandates equality of rights and opportunities for women.

It also recommends implementation of policies that encourage balance between working life and family life; investment in the social care infrastructure could entail providing public services directly or subsidising and regulating the provision of private care, and enhance women’s access to productive assets, including property and financial and digital assets; and tackling discriminatory social norms.

PAWED is organising a webinar on Tuesday July 20th, to bring stakeholders across the country to discuss the findings and discuss ways to implement some of the findings to improve access to finance for Nigerian women.

Credit: Leadership

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Women & Business

Women: Major Force in Nigeria’s Retail Sector

In its report highlighting the impact of women on Nigeria’s economic development, PwC Nigeria, Advisory partner and Chief Economist, Andrew Nevin, indicated that women account for 41 percent ownership of micro-businesses in Nigeria, with 23 million female entrepreneurs operating within this segment. 

The strong entrepreneurial spirit of women no doubt makes them a major force in the contribution of the micro business sector to Nigeria’s GDP. 90 percent of Nigeria’s retail market transactions according to reports are estimated to worth $100 billion out of which the food and consumer goods retail market alone accounts for an estimated over $40 billion.

Founder and Chief Executive Officer of leading B2B e-commerce platform Alerzo, Adewale Opaleye, once commended the contributions of women to the socio-economic growth of Nigeria. His perspective on the import of women to the micro business segment is inspired by his mother who was a shop owner. He experienced firsthand the challenges his mother, like other shop owners, faced in the running of her business – issues of inventory management, access to capital, logistics and so on – which seemed endless. His subsequent study in China and witnessing how the country used technology in solving similar problems, inspired him to tackle business challenges in Nigeria using the same technology. This was how Alerzo was born.

Today majority of the micro business owners on the Alerzo platform comprise women. The core focus of B2B e-commerce companies like Alerzo is to help micro business owners stock their stores with original and quality products directly from manufacturers and distributors, delivering the products to them free of charge, thus helping them to overcome most of the challenges associated with their business.

Micro business owners in general no longer have to deal with most of the issues that affect their profitability and ease of doing business, thereby changing the landscape for them one delivery at a time. With its delivery services, retailers save time, energy, and resources that they would have otherwise expended in restocking. These benefits have resulted in 85 percent of the retailers on the Alerzo platform reducing their two to four times a week restock trips to zero. This is further transforming the businesses of all informal retailers on the platform.

With B2B e-commerce bringing continuous improvement to how retailers, including women, run their businesses, the import of women to the micro business sector and economic growth in general cannot be undermined.

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Women & Business

Stanbic IBTC Tasks Women To Engage in Wealth Building Investments

As part of efforts to continually advance women entrepreneurs in Nigeria, Stanbic IBTC Holdings PLC, a member of Standard Bank Group has called on women to engage in wealth building investments for the collective progress of their finances and businesses.

This was disclosed at the Women in Management, Business and Public Service (WIMBIZ) June 2022 Roundtable Session themed: ‘The Woman and Her Money: Empowerment through Business, Trusts, Private Banking, StockBroking, and Insurance’.

The Women in Management, Business and Public Service (WIMBIZ) is a non-profit organisation focused on increasing and supporting the success rates of female entrepreneurs and the proportion of women in senior positions in corporate organisations and public service.

Over the years, WIMBIZ has inspired, empowered and advocated for better representation of women. Speaking at the roundtable session, Busola Jejelowo – Executive Director, Investment Management – Stanbic IBTC Asset Management Limited, stated that despite the positive impact that women-owned businesses have on the society, there are still untapped wealth building opportunities that can be explored to improve their businesses and finances.

She said: “Despite the challenges women face, we continue to play a significant role in driving the economic, social and cultural development of our communities. In Nigeria, more than 41 per cent of small businesses in Nigeria are run by women, with over 23 million female entrepreneurs operating in this segment. Imagine if all these women begin to invest their funds in veritable assets. The returns they will get on their investments will be indeed substantial. However, many women are not aware of financial opportunities due to the low level of financial literacy in the nation. This is part of the reason why we have organised this event.”

According to her, the theme of the session is centered around how investing in Business, Trusts, StockBroking, Insurance’ and other financial properties can greatly benefit women in today’s world.

“We are proud to say that over the years, Stanbic IBTC has helped a lot of Nigerian women build sustainable wealth, despite the general economic outlook. One of our core initiatives is to organise free capacity building sessions for individuals. As people from different works of life and especially as women, we need to cultivate the habit of savings and investing our funds, which will be used to acquire assets,” she added.

The Executive Director, Clients Solution – Stanbic IBTC Bank, emphasised that the focus of the conference was to primarily build the confidence of the businesswoman in the Nigerian market and provide a platform for sensitising women on wealth creation through opportunities with alternative investments, access to business financing and working capital, use of insurance to protect their wealth and many more.

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Women & Business

IWD 2022: Zedcrest Advocates For Gender Equality, Celebrates Female Employees

As part of its commitment to inspire, engage, and empower women to reach their full potential, Zedcrest Group, a new-age principal investing and financial solutions powerhouse in Africa, hosted a national webinar in celebration of International Women’s Day on Tuesday, March 8, 2022.

Themed ‘Breaking the Bias’, this year’s International Women’s Day celebration is aimed at promoting gender equity across various sectors and spheres by celebrating women who have emerged pioneers in their respective fields.

While delivering the opening remark during the virtual event, Zedcrest’s Group Managing Director, Mr. Adedayo Amzat, said being a successful woman in a company or business entails not conforming to pre-determined standards and striving for excellence.

“At Zedcrest, we believe women play a significant role in the socio-economic and cultural development in every society. Advocacy campaigns and social discourses like this allow us to lead the conversation about creating a world free of gender bias and discrimination, a society where women can live, grow, and attain their full potential while also contributing positively to global development,” he said.

The virtual event had Dr. Laila St Matthew-Daniel, an Executive Coach & Behavioural Strategist, and Mrs. Ier Jonathan-Ichaver, a Social Justice Advocate and Social Worker, as guest speakers.

According to Mrs. Jonathan-Ichaver, “bias is prevalent in every aspect of our lives. Our brains are hardwired to categorize things we encounter to make sense of the complicated world around us. However, biases can cause us to form prejudices against others, which allows for egregious inequalities to form between different demographics”.

She noted that recent studies from Harvard Business Review and other research firms, have shown that inclusive teams make better business decisions, while teams with less diversity are more likely to make poor business decisions.

Women’s representation has increased across the pipeline since 2016. However, women — especially women of colour — remain significantly underrepresented in leadership.

“While there is a long road ahead to close the gender gap, creating a safe working environment, challenging stereotypes, offering equal opportunities for all genders, and being transparent about wages, are small steps in the right direction for gender equality in the workplace”, said Dr. Laila St Matthew-Daniel.

To ensure gender balance in the workplace, Mrs. Daniel said “Companies need to take bold steps to address burnout. They need to recognize and reward the women leaders who are driving progress. And they need to do the deep cultural work required to create a workplace where all women feel valued.”

In celebration of the 2022 International Women’s Day, female leaders at Zedcrest Group received a pen letter from the management team recognizing their leadership role and commitment to the organization’s goals.

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