The Sixth International Women’s Day Conference Ended With A Bang!

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The International Women’s Day Conference organized by 100Women is held annually in commemoration with the Global Women’s Day commenced yesterday on March 4th. The conference brings together successful female entrepreneurs; who are innovative game changers in their various industries to educate female entrepreneurs by providing enlightening, relevant and informative content that drive business success for hundreds of Female entrepreneurs present at the conference and millions of others online in Nigeria.

The 2021 Edition of the conference held virtually on Thursday, March 4th, 2020, this marked the sixth year of the Lagos Small Business Summit and was held on Zoom with a huge attendance. The theme for this year’s theme is “CHOOSE TO CHALLENGE: ACHIEVING AN EQUAL FUTURE IN A COVID-19 WORLD”

The conference started with opening remark by Pelumi Folorunsho, the Head Of Programs at SME100Africa.
The KEYNOTE ADDRESS was delivered by Funke Bucknor-Obruthe, founder and CEO of Zapphaire Events, where she shared her journey and how she CHOSE to challenge the status quo and went into an industry (event-planning) that did not even exist. She fought the status quo that she couldn’t do and achieve what she set out to do. She also spoke passionately about resilience in whatever one you do, she herself is a success story of how resilient she was amidst all that life seemed to throw at her and her business. She gave words of wisdom to women telling them that they should not be limited to their degrees and can achieve absolute anything within and outside their degrees; Funke buttressed on the fact that failure is just a stepping stone and action really what differentiates losers from winners.

Funke highlighted that fear is a normal feeling but all you have to do is make moves even with that feeling; Funke shared her personal theme for the year which is ‘Execution’, she is choosing to challenge every status quo which says that she cannot do or see her plans through.

• Akinlolu Akinyele – Head, energy and emerging Corporates Group Axa Mansard
• Oby Ugboma – Chief Operating Officer at Chapel Hill Denham
• Fade Ogunro – CEO of Bookings Africa
• Basirat Akin-Bashiru – Assitant Director, Personal Income Tax

First speaker
The first speaker was Akinlolu Akinyele, Head of energy and emerging Corporates Group Axa Mansard and he spoke on the various insurance policies available at Axa mansard for small businesses. He started by stating the importance of insurance and explained how it helps business owners to focus on strategic plans for growing their business rather than things that they can’t plan for and help you avoid having to drop funds for that. They have created a new package for women businesses and small businesses called the BUSINESS INSURANCE PLAN, it is a coverage for third party liability and a single policy which identifies all the risk areas a business is exposed to and provides plans for them, some of which are for assets, staff life insurance, trading good, losses from fire and burglary.

Second Speaker
The second speaker was Oby Ugboma, Managing director and Chief Operating Officer at Chapel Hill Denham and she spoke brilliantly on women in innovation and access to finance in a COVID-19 world. She was asked by the host a key question on how accessible finance is for a people and women especially with start-ups to access finance and she stated that it is not very accessible and that the Government makes an effort to provide different funds and if to be specific during the pandemic they made available a 50 billion intervention fund with a 5% interest rate which could get people 20-30 million but she personally didn’t know anyone who had applied and gotten the funds.
She encouraged those with cash-flow funds to apply for the program; She stated that people could go for outside investments as well and shared that she is a member of an angel network and explains that an angel is a person that comes into a business at an early stage and invests into the business, they put their money into the company and give access to networks and advice on other aspects that can help bring profit.

Third Speaker
The third speaker, Fade Ogunro, CEO Bookings Africa who spoke on the future of work which she expressed is DIGITAL; she states that 84% of work across Africa is informal and the informal sector has issues by not being recognized to the Government, they don’t have access to finance and don’t pay taxes and hider growth in the economy and because of that they are stifled themselves by way of how they grow as a result of lack of access to finance and financial illiteracy, illiteracy and lack of access to smartphones as well as data. Fade also stated that digital work will absolutely help for the growth of the economy and provide more access to jobs for those unemployed; She expresses that it is important to monetize your skill by use of a mobile phone or other smart device, the future of work is either having the choice to being an employee, being an employer, working remotely from the office or being self-employed.

The Fourth Speaker
The fourth and final speaker is Basirat Akin-Bashiru, Assitant Director, Personal Income Tax answered the questions of some of the audience and explained that taxes are based on the income made by the company and that there is no grace period on your business to start paying your taxes. She states that paying your taxes is a civil responsibility which will help the Government to provide and upgrade social amenities for you and the person next to you. She also stated that it is non-negotiable paying your taxes and if you pay your taxes as at when you due there are opportunities for SME’s which is the avoidance of harassment from their officials.

The pitch conference was a hybrid event which took place after the financial literacy session, it was moderated by Tife Onifade (Communications Associate, Bilateral Communication) and the four judges were Jumoke Odunlami (Chief Marketing And Customer Service Axa Mansard), Seun Runsewe (Vice President Of Growth At Softcom), Charles Odii (Founder SME100AFRICA, Akinlolu Akinyele (Head of energy and emerging Corporates Group Axa Mansard). Thre were over a thousand entries who were shortlisted to just 30 people, the event was in two stages and after the first round where all the pitchers spoke aboujt their business for 3 minutes, they were shortlisted to 5 and those 5 pitchers had a minute to convince the judges to invest in their business and innovation, the final winner was chosen from them.

The winner of the Pitch Competition was Mariam Lawani whose business named Greenhill Recycling Limited stole the show and captivated the audience from her problem stated, the solution her company will offer and the impact and return the grant of 1 million naira will do for her business and Nigeria.
The conference also featured a financial literacy session by Axa Mansard.
The Executive Director of SME100 Africa Mr Charles Odii said “We are excited that we are able to empower, educate and inspire women through this event and we can’t wait to start our mentorship series. The industries include fashion, creative arts, marketing & communications, beauty, health & fitness, digital marketing to mention a few”

This year, the official sponsor of the event and the pitch competition was Axa Mansard

“It was an impactful and insightful session” said one of the attendees of the IWD conference.

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