The Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Mrs. Mariam Katagum, has said that the federal government is currently working on a policy that will earmark a certain percentage of public procurement for women owned businesses.
She also said all MSME groups and individuals would be granted level playing ground to apply and access government funding initiatives, particularly the MSME Survival Fund.
The minister spoke while she received the executive committee members of the NECA’s Network of Entrepreneurial Women (NNEW) Abuja, led by its
Chairperson, Mrs. Amina Zanna Ibrahim, on a courtesy visit to her over the weekend.
Katagum said: “Disabuse your minds about government contracts. We have this initiative that is going on about procurement processes for women.
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“We are trying to take it at a policy level so that all these procurement processes will at least, try to earmark a certain percentage for women owned businesses.
“But we have to take it at the policy level because the men who are taking all the contracts will not want you to come and compete with them.”
However, the minister assured the women that the proposed framework will ensure that female entrepreneurs get a share of procurement contracts going forward.
She added that already, the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) is currently working to ensure that women are considered in future procurement.
The minister also assured that all government’s funding interventions, particularly the MSME Survival Fund scheme, which was created to ameliorate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on small business, will be administered on a level playing ground so all applicants can get equal opportunities.
Katagum added that she will consider it a major, if applicant are able to access the funds on merits and without intermediaries or any kind of influence.
She said: “When we first started this MSME Survival Fund, I told the vice president that I would think I am successful by the number of people that would say, they didn’t know anybody or they heard this on the radio, or their friends told them or they saw it on the TV-and they applied and they got it.
“And we’ve got quite a lot of testimonies of people who even said their friends told them to apply and they said leave me alone; and then suddenly, they saw that their friends got it.”
She however, promised that her ministry will work with the group towards realising a common objective to advance the interest of women owned enterprises at all times.
Earlier, Ibrahim had conveyed the women’s visit to the minister, seeking for better collaboration to better collaboration with the ministry.
To group, among other things, sought to partner with the ministry in the areas of information on government’s interventions that could benefit women as well as capacity building.