Stanbic IBTC Bank PLC, a subsidiary of Stanbic IBTC Holdings PLC, has partnered the United Nations on an initiative to provide seed funding for women across the six geopolitical zones of Nigeria and the Federal Capital Territory. This is in furtherance of the organisation’s commitment to enhancing food security and providing employment for women in Nigeria across the agricultural value chain.
The UN initiative, tagged ‘The UN Women Project’, was borne out of the need to provide economic empowerment for women and close the gender gap in agricultural productivity and incomes while increasing their access to resources and markets. With a total budget of $40,000,000 for five years from 2019 to 2023, the initiative targets six states namely Ogun, Ebonyi, Cross River, Niger, Bauchi and Sokoto, as well as the FCT.
In line with the objectives of the Federal Government’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP 2016-2020), the UN Women collaborated with three sister UN agencies which are the Food and Agriculture Organization, International Labour Organisation and United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO).
Key mandates of the programme include restoring growth, skills acquisition and building a globally competitive economy, through investments in the agricultural sector.
To pilot the flagship programme, Stanbic IBTC Bank PLC provided seed funding to support women working in the shea nut and rice value chains in Niger and Ebonyi States, respectively. The pilot programme is expected to reach at least 30 women-owned agribusiness organisations and cooperatives in five Local Government Areas (LGAs) in the two states.
The beneficiary LGAs include Mashegu, Munya and Katcha in Niger State as well as Ezza South and Ohoazara in Ebonyi State.
Speaking on the role of the financial institution in the project, Remy Osuagwu, Executive Director, Personal and Business Banking, Stanbic IBTC Bank PLC, said: “The impact of women in the society is visible in every ramification. Being an organisation that celebrates gender balance, we recognise the call to keep empowering women, and we take advantage of every opportunity to support their endeavours.”
Wole Oshin, Head, Agribusiness Banking, Stanbic IBTC Bank PLC, said that the key objective of the project is to create resource centres in both states for capacity building, data creation and management. This is aimed at supporting women in undertaking climate-smart agricultural practices for their economic development.
He further reiterated that the bank is committed to providing an enabling environment for women to thrive and get access to developmental opportunities. “It cannot be overemphasised that investing in the agricultural sector is very key to nation-building. We have to keep providing entrepreneurial and financial capacities as well as an affordable technology for value addition. Using information and communications technology to increase access to finance and markets will support the advocacy for women’s secured rights to land,” he said.
He further disclosed that this project is in tune with the #HeforShe initiative of Standard Bank Group, the parent company of Stanbic IBTC Holdings PLC.
‘HeForShe’ is a global solidarity movement for gender equality initiated by the UN. Its goal is to achieve balance by encouraging all genders to partake as agents of change and take action against negative stereotypes and behaviours.