In Nigeria, women run only 20% of enterprises in the formal sector (World Bank, 2009: 92). And 29% of these enterprises are in the retail sector. Women's access to finance and fairer taxation is limited by many factors including lack of bank accounts, lack of collateral security, unfair deductions and multiple taxation. Limited opportunities for employment and a rather small medium-scale enterprise sector has meant that micro or informal enterprise has become a default strategy for many Nigerians. A majority of 43% of women cited as economically inactive make their living through micro-enterprises. The "2010 Access to Financial Services in Nigeria" survey shows that owning a business has become the main source of income for 19.5 million adult Nigerians (EFInA, 2011). 23% of the survey respondents indicated 'own business' as the main source of income, ahead of farming (18.7%) and wage employment (12.6%). Therefore, the importance of micro-enterprises as the main source of income makes it a strategic area for the empowerment of women. How can we explore creative solutions to promoting women's enterprises in Nigeria?
Girls Voices Initiative has conceived a digital action campaign to mobilize community support for the enterprises of young women in Nigeria. The campaign is titled #SupportHerEnterprise or #SHE and aims to promote the business ventures of young women in Nigeria. Identifying young women who are leading creative and promising enterprises in Nigeria, we reckon that the global village (world) needs to see the remarkable work the women are doing and support their businesses by buying their products or patronizing their services. Young women already have to battle the challenge of raising good capital for their businesses, so they are unable to afford the cost of producing a quality promotional video for their business venture. Also, many women are ignorant of the value of a promotional video for their business.
How are we supporting women's businesses? Girls Voices Initiative is working with young women entrepreneurs to design promotional videos for their enterprises. The promotional videos are produced at low cost for the women and we work with the women to build their confidence and prepare them to pitch their business in few words. The video profiles the business owner promoting her enterprise and making a call to action which may be an advertisement to trainees, showcasing products to customers, offering services to clients and other calls. An added perk from the process is that the women entrepreneurs receive a personalized promotional video that does not reflect our brand in anyway so that she can also use the promotional video to market her business within her networks or even use it for presentations or applications as the case may be. This is how we help to promote women's enterprises. An extended benefit of this process is that Girls Voices builds a strong network of women entrepreneurs who can provide training and other business skills to our girls. Also, the women are a great inspirational and mentoring resource for the girls.
The #SupportHerEnterprise or #SHE Campaign is promoted online and targets some international platforms which would further expand the women's trade or business to a global market. One of the digital platforms we extensively sharing this campaign to is the global platform that World Pulse provides - connecting over 60,000 women leaders across 190 countries of the world. And we imagine these women leaders further sharing their videos within their individual networks; increased customer-base, increased confidence for some of the women, expanded empowerment opportunities, and endless opportunities that continue to emerge from the process. We are not holding any limits on the results of this campaign and we don't want our beneficiaries to hold any limits either.
Our first success story is Kaffi, the Head Instructor of Kaffi Fashion Academy in Abuja, Nigeria. She is an experienced fashion designer who is doing a tremendous work training and empowering young women and girls to build their skills and expertise in fashion designing. Girls Voices produced a promotional video for Kaffi and in the first 2 days she shared her video on Facebook, her followers grew from 184 to 463. In the following days, she rose to 754 and now has over 1000 followers on Facebook. She was receiving a lot of positive comments and responding to questions and enquiries about available training courses. Her highlight was an experience where she was contacted by some ladies from London, UK who inquired if she offered online training. We have built her skills to expand her reach and we are now producing short training videos to build her YouTube channel and expand her reach to a global audience. Kaffi started out her videos shy and nervous, but she is a lot confident now and excitedly engages with the camera and is constantly unleashing her creativity, skills and expertise in fashion design. She is definitely on to some great work. #SupportHerEnterprise #SHE
We are still filming women in various fields of business, for example, we are filming in a design studio where a young woman (trained architect) runs various design courses in technical drawing, sketchpad, painting etc. for kids through adult artisans and staff of corporate companies. The #SupportHerEnterprise or #SHE Campaign has a wide scope to reach various women entrepreneurs - it does not matter what her trade is, we would work with her to design and produce the video that best suits her to promote her business.
Girls Voices Initiative is a non-profit that provides a platform for girls to share their voices on issues affecting them. We also offer basic skills training to girls to empower them for positive impact in their communities.
 Gender in Nigeria Report 2012: Improving the Lives of Girls and Women in Nigeria. British Council Nigeria, 2012. Pg. 29
This post was submitted in response to #SheMeansBusiness: Women Entrepreneurs.