Experts at the 2nd virtual lecture of the Organization of Women in Science for the Developing World (OWSD) have urged women to upgrade themselves to the modern world and be ready to take risk to be productive as entrepreneurs in the new normal of Post Covid-19.
Former acting Vice Chancellor, Lagos State University(LASU) and the present Director, LASUDA, Professor Ibiyemi Olatunji-Bello, gave this recommendation, while delivering the topic ‘Post Covid-19: The Female Entrepreneur in a New World’.
Prof. Olatunji-Bello gave expansive definitions of female entrepreneur, including female economic leaders who possess the ability to recognize opportunities for successful introduction of new commodities, techniques, sources of supplies and to assemble, manage and organize them to a running business.
The webinar themed ”Post covid-19: Female Productivity and Entrepreneurship” held on Wednesday, September 2 had 101 participants, among who were the First Lady of Lagos State, Dr. Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu; the wife of the Deputy Governor, Mrs Oluremi Hamzat; the former Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Princess Sarah Sosan; the Commissioner for Environment and Water Resources, Mr Tunji Bello; and the Vice Chancellor, LASU, Prof. Olanrewaju Fagbohun.
Other dignitaries and professionals, both local and international, were also in attendance.
According to Prof. Olatunji-Bello, “the entrepreneur is the engine of growth and the wheels of industry that drives the economy of a country to welfare and prosperity in the new world. Thus, sole proprietorship, partnership and registered companies are all enterprises whose major aim is making profit and many women are involved in this”.
She said “the pandemic and lockdown have negatively impacted the entrepreneurs’ world.
The Professor of Physiology explained that financial motivation, job satisfaction, being independent, loss of job, poor educational background as well as creation of employment are motivational factors for starting most enterprises.
“Most times, the female entrepreneur is faced with obstacles like gender discrimination. Other factors such as religious belief, poor infrastructure, low access to financial assistance and lack of modern technology hinder the growth of her enterprise,”she said.
The outbreak of Covid-19 is viewed to have further put more pressure on many female entrepreneurs who are at the fore front of the negative outcomes of the pandemic.
The don, therefore, urged women not to allow the present situation paralyze their ambitions.
She advised them “to move with time and adjust to the new normal by upgrading themselves to the modern world where technology and networking are now paramount”.
Furthermore, the professor told women to take advantage of stimulus financial packages from the CBN, as well as flexible loans from other financial institutions.
She further advised government and stakeholders to give more financial assistance to women entrepreneurs, provide an improved education and training opportunities, create gender responsive trade and policies that will be beneficial to women at this trying time.
In her words, “this will enable women to fit into the post covid-19 outcomes and attract more women into entrepreneurship”.
She suggested that more grants should be given to female startups and investors’ contributions and responsibilities to community should increase.
She said more opportunity should be given to women in decision-making process because women are blessed with motherly instinct that favours everyone without any bias.
The Chief Nursing Officer, LASU, and the Chairperson, Nigeria Labour Congress, Lagos State Chapter, Erelu Funmilayo Sessi, was the second speaker at the webinar.
She delivered the topic: ‘Productivity of Workers in the New Normal’.
She corroborated the havoc caused by Covid-19 globally and the need to adjust to the new normal for optimal and rewarding performances.
According to Comrade Sessi, both employers and employees should adhere to the new normal for the health and safety of everyone.
According to her, for an effective productivity, employers should take up the sole responsibility of equipping their employees with the right tools for work.
She called everyone to create mini offices in their various homes, be considerate with their expectations towards each other and support one another emotionally.
Chief Sessi emphasized the importance of giving specific goals and feedbacks that focus on actions rather than persons and inspire workers with incentives to boost their morale.
In line with Prof Olatuni-Bello opinion, Comrade Sessi stressed the prevalence of gender discrimination in employment, training, positions and remunerations.
She, therefore, recommended equal rights for both genders.
Sessi called for the implementation of the International Labour Organization (ILO) convention such as ILO C155 which protects the health and safety of workers and the ILO 199 that affirms the right to freedom from violence and harassment in the workplace.
She used the medium to call on NGOs and other women organizations to fight for the ratification of ILO 190 in Nigeria to enable women occupy their rightful positions in the industry, especially in the new era of Covid-19.
Dr. Sanwo-Olu, in her address, applauded all the speakers.
She pledged her support for gender equality and promised to give feedbacks to Governor of Lagos State, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu.
Prof. Fagbohun congratulated the entire OWSD members and the speakers.