By Codratus Godson
Bonny women of Rivers State turned out in their numbers to work with the Bonny Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (BOCCIMA) on Friday, March 6, 2020, and train on how to trade with US companies. They also trained on how to import items into Nigeria with ease and how to export into the US market. Most importantly, they learnt how to break through the negative perceptions that seem to clog Nigeria’s reputation abroad.
The one-day event which was organized by the BOCCIMA in Bonny Island was attended by most women including huge satellite participation by those in Port Harcourt, Lagos and Abuja.
The event was also used to mark the International Women’s Day (IWD) in Bonny with collaboration with NACCIMA Business Women Group (NAWOG). Top leaders who welcomed the participants said Bonny women need support to go global. They appreciated the US embassy for lending a helping hand.
The Director General of the BOCCIMA, Constance Nwokejiobi, gave an overview of the BOCCIMA plan of action which seemed to excite the business women. She talked about innovation and IT as the new drivers of growth and made it clear that BOCCIMA works along the lines of advocacy, networking, IT, etc.
She said the Chambers would help to structure Bonny businesses and work out their financials and capacity development to enable them deal with companies in the US and other parts of the world. She called it connecting with global partners.
She unveiled Go-Life as a programme by the BOCCIMA to engage with critical stakeholders including the king, Bonny Chiefs Council, the Local Council, and forge other strategic alliances.
All this, she said, is to position business owners in Bonny to participate in Train 7 estimated at $10Bn. She gave account of the journey so far for BOCCIMA which is now registered with NACCIMA and is now welcomed in most cities in America and Europe.
The DG gave appetizers on upcoming schemes such as turning Bonny into a Business Hub and the Bonny 2040 Vision which showed Bonny looking like Dubai; as has been the dream of the Bonny monarch.
An exciting moment came when experts on international trade from the US Consulate reeled out trade secrets that could make the Bonny business women come tops in dealing with US companies and how to operate as a global SME. The experts wowed the women by showing how US companies are willing to enter the Nigerian market through local partnerships.
One particular expert explained the new strategies that have been adopted by the US trade centre in Nigeria to overcome Nigeria’s reputation challenges in helping US companies know who to deal with in Nigeria. The expert called it ease of doing business with US companies. The participants asked numerous questions and showed keen interest in practicing what they learnt.
Another exciting session seemed to be the IWD marker which was anchored by Dabota Godswill Jombo, a former banker, a business woman and activist. She used a case study called ‘Woman on the Yellow Wallpaper’ to illustrate the oppression and bondage imposed on most women in different Nigerian cultures and how it can only take the spirit of liberation by women to break out.
She shared the women into five groups and they answered over 10 questions which served as review of the situation of women and how to deal with it. The exciting session dragged on as women never wanted to go anywhere.
Some of them who spoke promised to duplicate the message and take it round the state to teach women how to handle situations that look like oppression and suppression.
Speaking at the end of the event, the DG said she felt fulfilled that Bonny women turned out in their numbers. She was happy also that the women demonstrated readiness to join in entrepreneurship and embrace the BOCCIMA so as to move ahead collectively as topflight business women.
Most women who spoke to newsmen called for regular programmes such as this to enable the Bonny women take their place in the business world.