IWD: Vivian Bello Foundation supports small-scale women entrepreneurs in FCT

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With the help of the Girl-Child Freedom at the Grassroots (GCFG) and the Vivian Bello Foundation, an NGO, the empowerment of small-scale women traders in Nigeria through digital financial literacy has begun.

The empowerment program, which took place on Thursday at Dutse Market in Dutse, Abuja, was designed to address the problems that small-scale women traders in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and throughout Nigeria were experiencing as a result of the CBN’s (Central Bank of Nigeria) monetary policy.

The Foundation’s first program, with the theme “Strengthening the Financial Digital Access of Women for Inclusion and Economic Empowerment,” will provide small-scale female traders with digital financial literacy as part of its celebrations of IWD in 2023.

Speaking to the women in attendance, Ms. Vivian Bellonwu, the founder and CEO of the Vivian Bello Foundation, bemoaned the fact that Nigerian women, particularly small-scale traders, had been adversely affected by the CBN’s cashless policy. She noted that while entities that interact with the economy on a larger scale do not appear to have many issues, those on a smaller scale have had difficulty with the policy and its operationalization.

Bellonwu noted that this year’s International Women’s Day (“IWD”) theme, “DigitAll, Innovation and Technology for Gender Equality,” essentially addressed a crucial issue by integrating women with contemporary digital innovations.

She stated that about 65% of Nigerian women lack access to affordable and dependable internet service, which contributes to digital illiteracy and the exclusion of women from this sector of the economy.

“This has been one area where Africa and Nigeria, in particular, have performed poorly, the foundation for this being the internet where about 65% of women in Nigeria do not have access to a cost-effective and dependable internet connection,” she said. This promotes digital illiteracy and excludes women from this sector of the economy.

“Therefore, it was not surprising that the majority of people were affected by the Central Bank of Nigeria’s sudden new monetary policies, which were intended to usher in a nearly entirely cashless economy. This was especially true for women who worked in lower-paying trades and the arts. Many of these groups of women lacked functional bank accounts and operations as well as adequate knowledge and understanding of the digital processes supporting Apex Bank’s mandated cashless policy. They were consequently plunged not only into a maze of confusion but also into hardship as many observed as customers dwindled and sales plummeted.

Many people turned to improvise or channeling their transactions and inflows to any available person who has knowledge of the digital process and possibly also has the devices in order to stay afloat. It goes without saying that they made a fortune off of these women who were forced to pay outrageous amounts in fees or risk losing sales. Of course, when given little to no other option, they agree to it. Nigeria is known to be one of the top seven nations in the world with the highest percentage of unbanked citizens. Over 64 million, according to the World Bank’s FINDEX Report 2021. Of the approximately 200 million people in Nigeria, none have a bank account or use mobile payment services.

“Over the months that the cashless policies have been in place, women’s economic capacities have been seriously hampered due to drastically reduced economic activities, which has had a negative impact on families and children who depend on the income from these women’s ventures for a living and survival.

The Vivian Bello Foundation and its partner, the Girl-Child Freedom at Grassroots (GCFG), are organizations that are focused on issues that promote and protect gender rights and the social inclusion of vulnerable populations. After conducting assessments and identifying these challenges to women in the cashless policy, they set out to collaborate with relevant institutions (like the FINTECHS present here today) to address these challenges for women.

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“This is crucial right now because, despite the apparent improvement in the cash crunch, we must not lose sight of the fact that the policy is still in effect and will soon resume in full force. The world is moving away from analog financial processes, so it is no longer a matter of choice for women to embrace them; it is simply necessary that we do everything we can to get them on board with digital financing.

“We are therefore extremely happy that Opay and Wired Banking Africa, two digital financial institutions, have agreed to participate in this program and, commendably, bought into the idea of promoting women’s inclusion in the digital financial process.

As they are equally important in assisting people at the Grassroots integrate with the cashless policy, “We indeed thank them and want to believe that they will continue to partner in this process. They will have the chance to interact with our women (and men, too), show them some of the channels, platforms, avenues, devices, and methods that will allow them to go completely cashless, be active, and conduct their businesses without many problems in any area of the transaction.

The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, recently singled out fintech to praise them for facilitating easy transactions for Nigerians and their role in relieving pressure on traditional banks. Fintechs have emerged as very significant and dependable hands in Nigeria’s economy.

Bellonwu expressed confidence that all Nigerian women would soon be incorporated into and familiar with digital financial processes and conduct business freely and easily.

“I would like to take this opportunity to once again welcome all of you to this event. Although this is the Foundation’s first event, we will continue to work with the wonderful organizations present as well as any other relevant organizations to find solutions to any problems or challenges that may face women.

I, therefore, urge you to feel free to speak with them (in the language you know how to speak), share your challenges and issues, etc. It is my hope that in no distant time, all women in this Dutse market and in fact across other places will be well integrated into and acquainted with digital financial processes and will be transacting their businesses freely and easily.

Nwaiwu Chinonso, the GCFG’s executive director, also spoke during the event and disclosed that the organization has empowered over 10,000 women and girls in Nigeria through digital cash transfers for low-income women.

He added that a woman’s work changes when compensation is tailored to meet her needs. can influence the economy and has the potential to end hunger and poverty.

In Nigeria, GCFG has empowered more than 10,000 women and girls through digital cash transfers for low-income women, he said, adding that “Our Girl-Child is the future mother.” When payment is tailored to her needs, digitalized, and sent to her own account, a woman’s work changes. A woman can participate in the economy and have the chance to end hunger and poverty thanks to digital financial inclusion. When women are given financial independence, entire families and societies can prosper.

“Digital financial capabilities” refers to the knowledge, abilities, attitudes, and comprehension needed to use financial services provided by digital technologies. A woman who is financially and technologically literate can assess, select, and use financial services that will improve her life. Building women’s capabilities requires an iterative and gradual process because of the complexity that digital financial capability involves.

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Market women have had a lot of issues, including a lack of money, lost goods, poverty, hunger, and fatalities.

The sensitization and training of the women on digital finance processes by Fintechs was the event’s high point.

The Vivian Bello Foundation is a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) that works to end social and gender inequality in society by collaborating with sister organizations and institutions.

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