A study by the No Ceilings initiative of the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation, says Nigeria is the country with the highest number of female entrepreneurs as 41% of women are entrepreneurs. With this, the contribution of these female entrepreneurs to the country’s economy cannot be underestimated. Sadly, it is harder for a female entrepreneur to be able to raise money for her business than a male entrepreneur.
In a chat with Correspondent, Amy Jadesimi, the CEO of LADOL, a $500m Industrial Free Zone in Lagos, speaks on the reason for these challenges.
….There are more female entrepreneurs, as women tend to go more into entrepreneurship than formal business, but it is harder for women to raise money even though research shows that female-led companies tend to last longer and are more profitable. So, why is this not happening more?
I believe there are culture norms and biases that people have that prevent this. A man gets credit for exceeding expectations whereas it is naturally expected of women to go above and beyond. Investors need to begin investing more in women as data shows doing this means you make more money.
Representation of women across major sectors is grossly inadequate and would take at least 20 years before women and men can have equal representation. Women tend to be less educated, are married off earlier, may not have freedom to work and build a career and society usually pressures them to settle down and take care of their children. We need to restructure the way our society and companies are organized to realise the economic benefit of female empowerment and female representation. Women need to be politically and economically empowered.
The managing director of the NPA is a young woman who is taking great strides and has completely reorganized it. We have women making great impact and some would even say that women have pushed a lot of great initiatives in this present government. This is important to note so that more women follow in their footsteps.
If you choose to stay at home, ensure you’re treated fairly and economically compensated as staying in the home is also work. I don’t like to see a situation where a woman is staying at home and needs money to take care of the kids and is being treated like she is asking for pocket money for herself.
You are supposed to be entitled to a salary for doing this work and entitled to the money because you are part of a partnership and the partnership cannot succeed without what you are doing. Not only are they doing free labour but they’re also made to feel like they aren’t contributing to society. These women are also raising the next generation and they need to be educated and empowered so they can raise educated and empowered children as children are primarily influenced by their mothers.
We are going to set up a small adult learning centre in the free zone for our staff and their families because we realise a lot of staff could do with that little bit of additional education. So, if the husband is working for us, the wife is learning, which helps the whole family. Women need to realize their essential value to the economy and ensure this value is recognised. It is not a women versus men thing but more of recognizing we are in a system embedded in inequality that disempowers women. We have to work with men to educate them on the value of women and make them realise that if they want to succeed in any field, they need women to work with them or allow to be led by a woman.
And for women who has/wants a seat at the table
First, you must understand that nobody is going to give you a seat. When you get there, most times, you find out that you are the only woman there and I want you to do two things. First, make it count, represent yourself well and be always prepared. Secondly, make room for other women and bring them up with you. This would help you in two ways by adding more success to you and the company. Also, it is only by bringing more women up that we would have more women up. Look for women you can mentor and push up the ladder. As for getting into the room, you need to be brave, practical and realistic; go for that meeting you weren’t invited to, get your point across and make your voice heard; it is not an easy road but you can do it.