International Women’s Day Conference 2018 organised by SME100Women held at the Terra Kulture Arena in Victoria Island, Lagos on Friday 9th of March 2018 in commemoration of the International Women’s Week 2018. This conference #IWDC2018 featured top entrepreneurial minds speaking at various panel sessions on how SMEs can skillfully forge new solutions peculiar to their businesses and improve the quality of their value output; specifically, in the areas of access to business, access to finance and also leveraging technology. The participants were given the opportunity to foster conversations around doing business in Lagos with keen focus on the finance, technology and creative industry.
The SME100 International Women’s Day Conference is a platform that 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 summit and millions of others online. This is a one-day intensive event aimed at building critical connections between female investors and female entrepreneurs. This summit will bring together experts from both sides of the investment table to share best practices, essential tips and lessons learned. Bi national, local and global resources will be shared and discussed along with trends and hot topics around gender investing.
The Conference consisted of three panels which included the Finance, Technology and Creative Industry with each panel having one moderator to ask questions and stimulate discussions. The Finance Panel include: Brian Oji (Moderator), Foluke Aboderin, Yvonne Ezekiel, Adetola Aibangbee, Akin Oyebode. The Technology Panel include: Uzoma Dozie (Moderator), Chika Uwazie, Adeola Shasanya, Adanma Onuegbe, Nkem Begho while the Creative Industry include: Efeturi Doghudje(Moderator), Omotola Jalade Ekeinde, Bolanle Austin Peters, Chioma Afe, Juliet Ehimen.
As an introduction to highlight the purpose of this conference the CEO of SME100Nigeria mentioned in his powerful speech “The Nigerian woman today is not bench marking her successes against that of her male counterparts simply by trying to prove that what a man can do, a woman can do better. she is not trying to prove that she can thrive in a male dominated environment because that is not her objective. The Nigerian woman today is paving her own path, creating her own trailand competing against nobody but herself, she is not trying to break any glass ceiling because in her mind there is no glass ceiling, she is not trying to get out of the ‘box’ people have put her in because of her gender because she sees no box” –Charles Odii.
At the International Women’s Day Conference, all three panel sessions were very insightful. The last panel; the creative industry panel was particularly interesting and enlightening. This panel spoke on sexual abuse in the West and here in Nigeria (for both boys and girls) and why we should not be too quick to jump on online hashtags because they give wrong statistics and we should all change the way we think and adapt to everything about the Western world. The political systems are obviously different and what works there may not work here,vice versa. Mrs.Bolanle Austin Peters stated that the most successful entrepreneurs today, the likes of Bill Gates & Mark Zuckerberg looked at the gaps in the society and came up with solutions to fill these gaps. She advised young entrepreneurs to do the same by studying and understanding the missing gaps in the society and trying to fill in these gaps just like she did with Terra Kulture.
She noticed that Lagos did not have that many theatres in the society and she decided to develop one starting with a one room and this grew to the big theatre and gallery it is today. SME100 Women is an arm of SME100 Nigeria set up to support female entrepreneurs in Nigeria with Access to Market, Access to Finance, Capacity Development, Mentoring and Networks. Why the focus on SMEs`? Nigerian Women Lead the pack of Female entrepreneurs in the world, with 41% of Nigerian women being entrepreneurs (Source: The Gates Foundation). Also, “Women are the Biggest Emerging Market” – Bloomberg, March, 2010 and we believe as an organization this should be used to its optimum potential.