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FirstBank, UN Women advise SMEs on business growth

First Bank of Nigeria Limited and UN Women have advised women-led businesses on paths to business sustainability and growth.

Speaking during women empowerment webinar with theme: “Invest in Women: Accelerate Progress’’, organised by FirstBank in Lagos, Country Representative to UN Women Nigeria and ECOWAS, Beatrice Eyong, said development and growth in the economy are adversely impacted in environments where women lag behind.

She called for more investments towards women empowerment and capacity building that will enable them to thrive in their fields of specialisation.

Eyong said: “I commended FirstBank for having women hold top managerial positions in the bank. I congratulate FirstBank and other banks, including the private sector that is actually showing the way in terms of giving women access to decision making positions.”

“Statistics show that at least 20 per cent or even 22 per cent of top managerial positions are provided for women in the private sector especially in the banks , this is very good,’’ she said.

Eyong said because women were lagging behind, they could not efficiency and effectiveness have sustainable development.

She said: “until we have an equilibrium between the sexes, that is, we have 50 per cent men, and 50 per cent women benefiting, accessing, controlling, deciding, sitting on the table, we are not going to have sustainable development.’

Head, Sustainability Media and External Relations, FirstBank Group, Ishmail Omamagbe, reiterated the bank’s commitment to helping women achieve economic success.

The importance of the collaborative webinar stresses empowering women as vital for societal advancement, emphasising investment in education, health and in economic opportunities, as catalysts for progress in areas that support our economic growth and gender equality.

According to Omamagbe, the bank’s commitment to women’s economic empowerment has gone beyond simply offering financial products.

He said it involved actively implementing programmes and initiatives that supported women.

He listed  a six-point diversity and inclusion strategy of the bank as business rationale, senior leadership support, effective communication, employee engagement, accountability mechanism and progress tracking.

Omamagbe said that FirstBank being a signatory to the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs), had further strengthened women empowerment as it relates to employees, customers and community.

These principles, he said, had been integrated in the bank’s operations and activities as core to its business philosophy.

WEPs, he added, had been implemented through various programs promoting gender equality in the workplace, supporting women entrepreneurs, and advancing women’s sustainable socioeconomic participation.

The keynote speaker, Mrs. Mo Abudu, Chief Executive Officer, Ebonylife Media, while narrating her journey to progress, urged women to invest in themselves and take advantage of available resources to accelerate progress and achieve their goals.

“You have to build yourself to be your own brand ambassador; if you can’t think of it, you can’t achieve it,’’ she said.

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