Ecobank Nigeria has entered into partnership with the International Finance Corporation, (IFC) and The Nigerian Exchange Group, (NGX) on the ‘The Nigeria2Equal Gender Program’ targeted at reducing gender gaps across employment and entrepreneurship in the Nigerian private sector.
The programme is the first multi-stakeholder country project whose focus is to ensure equality within Nigerian companies. It is organized in three components – research, peer learning platform and firm level support to companies.
Speaking at the virtual launch, the Managing Director, Ecobank Nigeria, Mr. Patrick Akinwuntan said Ecobank has policies and structures in place that promote gender balance in its employment.
Mr. Akinwuntan, who was represented by the Head, Consumer Banking, Mrs. Korede Demola-Adeniyi, stated that the bank also has many initiatives and innovative products targeted at empowering and sustaining female entrepreneurs in Nigeria.
Such initiatives include ‘Ellevate’ and ‘Ecobank Female Entrepreneurs Initiative (EFEI)’, which are designed to empower and support female-owned small-scale businesses.
Akinwuntan said that as a bank, “We have deliberately focused on supporting women leaders within Ecobank. In Ecobank Nigeria, 46% of our work force are women, 54% of the Exco members are women. We have four regions in Nigeria, three Regional Heads are women, including the Chief Financial Officer and Executive Director. We also institutionalized our Group’s advice to all affiliate to ensure that the board representation across all affiliates has a minimum of 30% women representation. That has the potential to be exceeded in a short time. Facing the market, we launched the Elevate program. It is dedicated to women-owned businesses and companies that employ women as majority of their work force. We have plans to empower 40 million female entrepreneurs in the next few years with this program. So, it is all encompassing.”
In her welcome address, the African Regional Gender Lead, IFC, Ms Anne Njambi Kabugi, said the objective of ‘Nigeria2Equal Gender Program’ is to work with the private sector to reduce gender gaps across employment and entrepreneurship, adding that the approach is to combine in-depth client work with peer learning to share best practices and create market learning.
She disclosed that the programme which will last for about two and half years will focus on investigating gender balance in leadership and workplace; equal compensation and work life balance; policies promoting gender equality as relates to commitment, transparency, and accountability among others. She added that participating companies are expected to make two specific, measurable and time bound commitments to reduce gender gaps across leadership, employment, and entrepreneurship in the corporate value chain.
The initiative has 18 partners in 10 sectors which cut across Banking and Finance, Construction, FMCG, Food Manufacturing, Hospitality, Insurance, Logistics, Oil & Gas, Ride hailing, Telecommunication.
The International Finance Corporation is a sister organization of the World Bank and a member of the World Bank Group and is the largest global development institution focused exclusively on the private sector in developing countries.
As a member of the World Bank Group, IFC advances economic development and improves the lives of people by encouraging the growth of the private sector in these countries.
It achieves its objectives by creating new markets, mobilizing other investors, and sharing expertise. In doing so, it creates jobs and raises living standards, especially for the poor and vulnerable. IFC’s work also supports the World Bank Group’s twin goals of ending extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity.
In leading the way in private sector development, IFC helps countries develop their private sectors in a variety of ways:
- Investing in companies through loans, equity investments, debt securities and guarantees.
- Mobilizing capital from other lenders and investors through loan participations, parallel loans and other means.
- Advising businesses and governments to encourage private investment and improve the investment climate.
The third member of the partnership, the Nigerian Exchange Group (NGX Group) Plc is a leading integrated market infrastructure in Africa, championing the development of Africa’s financial markets.
NGX Group provides a wide range of services including listing and trading securities, licensing, market data solutions, ancillary technology, regulation, real estate, and more through its wholly-owned subsidiaries.