Evaluating Nestlé Nigeria rural women empowerment project

Mrs Aminat Kolawole, an indigene of Batoro community in Ogun state, has been running a small business for eight years in Sagamu, Ogun state.

She sells food and beverages, toiletries, drinks, household consumables among others in her Idera Oluwa stores, to ensure her children go to school and her family well kept.

Mrs Oghenetega Delight Jombo, of Jombo Stores, Port Harcourt, Rivers and Blessing Abayi, a single mother from Bauchi, also run small scale businesses to support their families.

Like the trio, all over Nigeria, women are seen making efforts to keep afloat. If they are not in office ekeing out a living from white collar jobs, they are seen on the streets and markets selling goods and services.

Some are in the farms doing agricultural works that can include farming and fishing, among others.

Equally, some get their daily living by utilising their skills in sewing, hairdressing, weaving and others, all to attain economic and even social empowerment.

However, the women in rural areas are even more vulnerable.

According to the UN Women, investing in women’s economic empowerment sets a direct path toward gender equality, poverty eradication and inclusive economic growth.

It says women make enormous contributions to economies whether in businesses, farms, as entrepreneurs or employees, or by doing unpaid care work at home.

But they also remain disproportionately affected by poverty, discrimination and exploitation.

Identifying these challenges, the World Bank in June 2023 says better economic opportunities for women is essential for addressing gender inequality; guaranteeing better education, health, and nutrition outcomes for families; and building women’s and communities’ resilience to climate change.

By building the assets, women can better respond to family needs and mitigate risks and the effects of climate and other shocks on livelihoods. Gender disparities in earnings hold back the Nigerian economy.

Women Empowerment speaks to the Sustainable Development Goal 5 which aims to “achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls”.

The realisation of this United Nations’ SDG5 goal cannot be done alone. It requires a multisectoral approach with governments and private sectors driving it.

It is based on this that Nestlé Nigeria Plc introduced its Empowering Rural Women in Nigeria Project to better the lots of women in the rural areas.

The project aims to help rural women build financial security through training, mentorship, and grants, with programme participants being females in Nestlé’s Nigeria value chain.

The beneficiaries are women within Nestlé Nigeria’s value chain, running small businesses in rural areas across the country.

The project also helps beneficiaries scale up their businesses and sustain the new level of up to three times the size of their existing businesses.

This objective is achieved through business training covering merchandising, bookkeeping and customer service, mentorship and coaching in addition to grants in form of Nestlé products valued at 300 per cent of their monthly sales at the time of joining the programme.

The beneficiaries are subsequently registered in a three-month mentorship programme and each woman is linked to a personal mentor for one-on-one coaching to ensure adoption of the key learnings from the training received to achieve the desired success.

Over 60 per cent of the beneficiaries achieve the 300 per cent target growth within the three-month coaching period.

Kolawole is one of the 332 women across the country, supported by Nestlé Nigeria to scale up their businesses through the Nestlé Rural Women empowerment Programme.

She is excited that her business, Idera Oluwa stores, was selected for the project.

Expressing her delight on behalf of other beneficiaries, Aminat said, “We are greatly pleased at the opportunity to be included in this programme.

“I believe that this opportunity will provide the necessary knowledge and resources to grow my business so I can earn more money to support my family and cater for my children’s education

“We are looking forward to the learning and mentoring sessions which will equip us to run our businesses more effectively.

“ A big thank you to Nestlé for investing in us. Our promise to the company is that we will maximise this opportunity for the benefit of our families and communities.”

For Folasade Ogunjimi of Save Way Stores Sagamu, another beneficiary of the programme:“This is the first time a company is bringing this amazing initiative to retailers in Sagamu in my 25 years of running this business.

“ We sincerely appreciate this well planned and considerate gesture by Nestlé towards supporting and expanding our businesses”.

In Ikorodu area of Lagos State, 32 joined some other 250 beneficiaries of Nestlé Nigeria’s Empowering Rural Women in Nigeria Project through which Nestlé is helping rural women in Nigeria build financial security to improve their standard of living.

Each beneficiary received grants valued at 300 per cent of their monthly sales in form of Nestlé products, business training and a three-month mentorship programme.

Each beneficiary is linked to a mentor for one-on-one coaching over the three months, to ensure their success.

And indeed, the success stories keep coming.

Another beneficiary, Blessing Abayi, a single mother from Bauchi, used to struggle with paying her children’s school fees.

But after three months in the programme, she declared that for the first time, she paid the fees in full and on time, thanks to her growing business.

Mrs Olubunmi Adeoye, also a beneficiary, expressed her gratitude to Nestlé for the opportunity to be part of the project.

“I am so happy that Nestlé chose me to benefit from this programme. It is a wonderful opportunity,” she said.

Another beneficiary, Mrs Bukola Ajala, praised Nestlé for the empowerment and the free goods they provided, saying, “I have not seen any empowerment like this before. I know I am going to the next level.”

Speaking at the inauguration of the seventh batch into the Project in Sagamu, Nestlé Nigeria’s Commercial Manager, Khaled Ramadan, said creating shared value within their communities was core in the company.

“ At Nestlé, we strive to make positive impact on society while ensuring the sustainability of our business.

“The Rural Women Empowerment Programme is not a one-time event but an ongoing process of value creation.

“The stories and testimonials from previous beneficiaries, particularly 100 per cent to 200 per cent business growth within three months of joining the programme, encourages us to do more.

“Onboarding women from Sagamu, one of our host communities, is a significant milestone in our commitment to empowerment and sustainable development and we are proud to have an opportunity to make a tangible difference in their lives”.

Ramadan, who also spoke at the induction in Ikorodu, said: “We are pleased with the success of the 250 beneficiaries of Nestlé Empowering Rural Women in Nigeria and are delighted by the opportunity to include 32 more today.

“With this addition, 282 women across five geopolitical zones of Nigeria now have a unique opportunity to scale up their businesses by 300 per cent.

“We are confident that the new beneficiaries will also transform their businesses, making the best use of the support Nestlé is providing through training, mentorship and grants in form of Nestlé products.”

Mr Phranklin Audu, Lead Facilitator and Head, Strategic Partnerships at FDConsults, implementation partner of Nestlé Empowering Rural Women in Nigeria Project, said: “We have amazing testimonials from previous beneficiaries.

“Through this project, Nestlé continues to help solve the challenge of poverty by empowering rural women across Nigerian communities.

“Lifting them off the poverty spectrum and improving their livelihoods. We are delighted to be project partners for the training and mentoring on this credible initiative”.

Audu said, “As an NGO focused on empowering people to improve their livelihoods, we are thrilled by the impact of this project on rural communities.

“Over 80 per cent of the beneficiaries have seen their incomes grow and can support their families better.

According to Kabiyesi Odofin Soyindo who represented the Akarigbo of Remoland, HRM Oba Babatunde Adewale Ajayi, he commends Nestlé for this sustainable venture and empowerment of Sagamu women.

“This is a noble initiative, and we are glad that our community is benefitting from corporate programs like this from Nestlé.

“To the beneficiaries, I urge you to establish your priorities and judiciously use the grants provided to you for the expansion of your businesses”.

Nestlé Empowering Rural Women in Nigeria Project began in August 2021, with 50 female retailers from the suburbs of Abuja.

The programme has expanded to include more women from the South-East, North-East, South-South, and South-west, including Lagos, to help beneficiaries scale up their businesses.

Currently, 332 women from across the regions are benefitting from the Nestlé Empowering Rural Women in Nigeria Project .

Nestlé Nigeria has helped these 332 women to scale up their businesses by 300 per cent and to sustain the new level through the project, by helping them build financial security to improve their livelihoods.

This is also one of the ways through which Nestlé Nigeria is Creating Shared Value along its value chain.

Over 80 per cent of beneficiaries have reported an increase of 100 per cent to 200 per cent in their business growth within three months of joining the program.

They can support their families better and have built financial security to improve their standard of living.

Attesting to this empowering and life-changing programme by Nestlé Nigeria , the best performing beneficiary, Mrs Oghenetega Delight Jombo, of Jombo Stores, Port Harcourt, reached a business growth of 675 per cent within six months of joining the programme.

She has sustained a monthly turnover of over N547,623.67 since.

Nestlé’s Corporate Communications and Public Affairs Manager, Victoria Uwadoka, reiterates the company’s commitment to building thriving communities by improving household incomes.

“ Nestlé Empowering Rural Women in Nigeria Project is one of the ways through which Nestlé Nigeria is Creating Shared Value along her value chain.

“We are inspired by her story and others like it,’’ Uwadoka said.

In conclusion, the role women play in their communities has a massive impact on economic development, poverty reduction, and sustainable development, hence empowerment of women through the Nestlé Empowering Rural Women in Nigeria Project, is a sure way to making positive realisations. (NANFeatures)

Source: News Agency of Nigeria

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