Bonny Chamber of Commerce presses for visibility of women businesses, awareness to opportunities

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* May focus on creating partnerships amongst women businesses

By Ignatius Chukwu

The Bonny Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (BOCCIMA) has expressed a determination to press for what they termed visibility for women businesses in Bonny and access to opportunities.

This is said to be the primary focus of the reactivated chamber of commerce that now drives business thinking and expansion on the island that is a sensitive terminal for oil and gas export. The new vision is to turn Bonny into an island of opportunities and entrepreneurship.

BOCCIMA has thus kick-started a series of activities signposted with annual women seminar series that brings up notable women resource persons across the globe to mentor and ginger Bonny women business operators and also ginger non-business ones into taking up entrepreneurship as a career or as a vocation.   

Giving background understanding to the work being embarked upon by the Chambers so far as far as women are concerned, the Director-General (DG), Mrs Constance Nwokejiobi, a chartered accountant, strategic management expert of international recognition and career woman, told Silver News that at the end of the campaign drive, BOCCIMA expected more inclusion of women owned businesses with the Chamber helping out as an enabler to provide capacity development support that would assist these businesses for an effective participation in the businesses within the Island.

It is her finding that one of the greatest challenges facing women entrepreneurs in Bonny is lack of awareness of opportunities. She also mentioned funding/capital, inclusion in leadership roles that can provide access to information, and gender bias in decision making. These are said to be challenges the BOCCIMA is determined to tackle to liberate the business sharpness of mind of the average Bonny woman.

BOCCIMA strategists plan to do this through what the DG called “Sectoral opportunities awareness creation, scaling up opportunities of businesses to enable an effective participation in the companies, and creating partnerships amongst the women for an effective growth/access to opportunities.”

After the two years of trying, the DG believes that the women have been rejuvenated and are ready to work through the business development process to compete effectively in the business space.

During the 2021 campaign, the BOCCIMA President, Elder Lawrence Jumbo, an education investor and expert, reiterated the goal of the chamber’s business inclusion drive, saying it is to create more business moguls, especially, among the women.

He said it was deliberate to create the theme of the 2021 campaign theme: “Women Inclusion in Business” in Bonny jointly organized by BOCCIMA and Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC).

Jumbo, who was represented by his deputy, Vincent Furo, who is a former President of the Port Harcourt Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (PHCCIMA), stated that women have the innate resources to achieve whatever they aspire to, urging them to take advantage of the various opportunities being availed them by the chamber.

“Let me congratulate the women. Today is a special day and I will also advise that those women in business to take this programme very seriously. You have all it takes to be one of the Dangotes of Nigeria.”  

He explained that the NACCIMA Business Women Group (NAWORG), which is the women wing of the National Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), was established with a view to expanding the scope of opportunities for women and enhance their capacity to compete with their male counterparts.

He commended the Director General of BOCCIMA (Mrs Nwokejiobi) for the success of the two day event, and expressed appreciation to the Chairperson of NAWORG, Rivers State Chapter, Oriaku Oyet-Ile for her support to the chamber and the insight she has continued to provide the chamber in its quest to build the capacity of women businesses in Bonny LGA.

Nwokejiobi had said at the event that the essence of the Marketplace, a mini trade fair, which was part of the events to mark the 20201 International Women’s Day, was to showcase women businesses in Bonny LGA, with a view to reinforcing its advocacy for women inclusion in the business space.

She had said: “BOCCIMA has 28 women businesses out of the total 90 registered businesses in the chamber. We have decided to give women an opportunity to showcase their businesses. The marketplace is an opportunity to showcase the businesses.”

“These women have started doing things so we have to give them the platform to be able to showcase their products and services and to be able to scale up. The essence of the Marketplace is to showcase these businesses to the world so that we can be able to compete globally.”

She dwelt on the theme of the 2021 international Women’s Day, ‘Choose to Challenge’, stressing that women were challenging inclusion in business decisions, maintaining that it had become imperative for decision makers in the public and private sectors to be intentional about assuring inclusivity for women in the business space.

Mrs Elizabeth Agbai (Ace Presenter & Producer, NTA) highlighted women capacity in business and the importance of women in leadership roles. Highlights of her presentation were focused on these key areas: transformational leadership, task focus, promotion of team work, communication, reducing fraudulent act, and spirit benefits.

She stated: “As we choose to challenge, let us push towards better leadership, it starts in our homes, in our work place and transcend to the larger society.”

 She beckoned on the women to leverage on their emotional strength to win God over, saying, “When women pray, women cry”.

Strategies unveiled to the women include the demand for inclusiveness. “Women are actually challenging inclusion in business decisions, we are saying if you have 100 per cent in your contracting space, allow 30 or 40 or 50 per cent or whatever; let there be a dedicated aspect of it for women, that is inclusion in the business space. Consciously and strategically set it out that let the women be able to partake.” 

“To register with the Bonny Chamber of Commerce, you have to have your CAC documents, your financial records and it is a notarized chamber meaning that credibility and integrity are entrenched here.” 

In her remarks, the Rivers State Coordinator of the NACCIMA Business Women Group (NAWORG), Arch Oriaku Oyet-Ile, stated that NAWORG is focused on empowering women in business with the right managerial skills to leverage investment opportunities to grow their businesses.

She made a sterling point thus: “Nobody hands anybody anything on a platter of gold, if you want something, you go for it. In most cases where people are complaining that ‘oh they didn’t do this, they didn’t do that’, what did you come for? What do you want and what are you willing to put out to get what you want? NAWORG is a platform for that and we will see how we can maximize the various opportunities.”

The Keynote Speaker and Community Content Manager, Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), Sarah Ajose-Adeogun, in her presentation titled, ‘Local Content Supplier Diversity’ outlined the various opportunities available in the business space, especially, in the Oil and Gas sector of the economy, urging them to maximize these to bolster their stake in the business world.

Ajose-Adeogun stated that SPDC was leveraging on various legal and other frameworks instituted by the government to ensure women inclusion in the business space such as the Nigerian oil and Gas Content Development (NOGICD) Act 2010 and the Community Content Guidelines (CCG) of the Nigerian Content Development Monitoring Board (NCDMB), among others.

According to her, SPDC was committed to ensuring women inclusion across the spectrum of its business environment, stressing, however, that the women must take their chances and compete favourably with the men, pointing out that “we won’t distinguish between men and women but if the women step up we will give them the same consideration we will give the men, but they have step up and step into the game”. 

In her intervention, President of the Nigeria LNG Residential Area (RA) Ladies Association, Grace Ikufisile, congratulated the women for putting together such a wonderful event, expressing optimism that the women would continue to take advantage of the various opportunities being availed by BOCCIMA. 

The Marketplace, a mini trade fair for women businesses, which was declared open by the Vice Chairman of Bonny LGA, Anengi Barasua, started on Friday and ran through Saturday, ending with the Business Seminar with the theme: ‘Business Inclusion’. 

On display were goods and services participating businesses such as Aries Flair Resources, a drink shop located at Ukpo Avenue; Zenith Bank; Peterside-Ama Bluejack Women Cooperative; Jevidac Nigeria Ltd, promoters of Norland Wellness Products and Multilevel Marketing Scheme; Elfranti (Nigeria) Limited, an indigenous oil and gas company; Isafred Limited, a catering company; and De Gracious Body Wrap; a construction company.

Others were Debby001, a fashion outfit specializing in sales and supplies of shoes and ladies’ handbags; Rigforms Nigeria Limited, an indigenous oil and gas company; Ajtec Quick Delivery Services, an indigenous fabrication and gas supplies company; and F. Amethyst Global Limited, an indigenous engineering, procurement, construction, and consultancy firm, among many others.

There was an aerobics session anchored by fitness expert, Basil Pollyn, on Day 2 of the event while Give-Away prizes were awarded to participants including the children who competed against themselves during a dance session. The prizes were from donations made by the RA Ladies Association to support the event.

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