Nigeria: Christiana: ‘I am now a better businesswoman and want to collaborate with other women entrepreneurs’
Christiana Stephen Wakawa is a trainer in vocational skills and producer of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE’s) including scrubs, bed sheets, washable facemasks etc. based in Maiduguri, northeast of Nigeria. One of the main challenges that she faces in her business is access to electricity, lack of skilled manpower and access to market for her business.
‘There is no power (electricity) in Maiduguri and the cost of running a generator is high. Workers are available but not skilled. Access to market for my business is also limited,’ she lamented. ‘Additionally, as a woman, one is often looked down upon and not being given a chance to have a voice amid men. When I come home, I also have my domestic duties to attend to- it’s very challenging as female entrepreneur managing my business and family life.’
Christiana, the mother of three starts her day before the crack of dawn - with prayers and devotion, preparing her children for school, assisting them with homework, and fulfilling all house-hold chores. Despite all the challenges and setback in running her business, she looks at them as merely lessons that have made her stronger, as she has continually devised ways of coping.
‘The insurgency has made life more difficult from around 2009. We need more support as women entrepreneurs and specifically for those in businesses like mine, we need sustainable energy to cut down the use of generators because its quite expensive. Addressing these issues will boost the business capital and capacity to produce and sell more PPE kits, and increase economic growth, for my family and community.’
Christiana was one of the attendees of a capacity development training organised by UN Women in collaboration with the Bureau of Public Procurement. The training focused on strengthening capacities of Women Entrepreneurs on skills to participate in competitive bidding processes and contract management, with the goal of improving their distribution capacities and access to markets.
‘Having attended the training, I say, knowledge is power and information will go a long way in helping boost my business by having the right certificate and qualifications. Prior to this training, I didn’t have the knowledge and information needed to position my business for the open market, and skills in procurement bidding. I now know I can participate and lend my voice in policy making, especially as it concerns women in trade.’
The United Nations Nigeria and the Government of Nigeria devised and implemented a project aimed at strengthening the capacity of local MSMEs and manufacturers to produce high-quality PPEs and healthcare-related products. The project, jointly implemented by International Labour Organization (ILO), the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), the World Health Organization (WHO) and UN Women, and funded by the UN.