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Honourable Minister for Women Affairs, Dame Pauline Tallen, representatives from the US Embassy, Director Generals and Executives of top government agencies and parastatals, the National co-ordinator of SheTrades in Nigeria, Terfa Ashwe, fellow Presidents from Sister organizations, our distinguished Keynote Speaker, Dr. Lanre Philips and our high powered panel members, Ajuma Ataguba, Ekaette Umoh and Amede Achingale with our ever supportive “He for She” moderator, Obinnaya Uruakpa, our delectable and articulate MC, Christie Adeph, board of Trustees and Executive members of AWEP, all our members far and near, Mrs Hilda Aderoba our AWEP Electoral Team Chairman, distinguished guests, members of the press, ladies and gentlemen. It is my great pleasure to specially welcome you all to the African Women Entrepreneurship Programme (AWEP) 6th Annual conference and AGM.

We are very grateful to members of the LOC headed by Emilia Csaszar who worked tirelessly day and night to put this event together. Our appreciation also goes to the host zone, North central and her Vice-President, Hajia Samira Jibir for silently working behind the scenes to ensure hitch free conference. Our deep gratitude to our Father, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur for providing the venue free for us.

We thank all our members, guests and partners who took time out of their busy schedule to honour us with their presence and time. We thank members of AWEP Executive council for all their support, it’s been a lot of hard work and thank you all. African Women Entrepreneurship Programme (AWEP) is an organization that positions women-owned Nigerian businesses across global borders and platforms. We promote business growth, export and best practices for sustainability. We encourage all our members to participate actively in domestic, regional and international trade through enterprise culture, mentoring, high impact capacity training and networking. We keep building day by day, a network of highly skilled female entrepreneurs by providing valuable information, access to market, finance and new opportunities to them. We have strong presence in the six geo-political zones and are active in many of the states. Our businesses are segmented into clusters for leverage and collaboration. We currently have five (5) clusters and members belong to one or two of the clusters namely;
1. Agriculture/Food processing
2. Fashion/Apparel
3. Light manufacturing/ Interior decoration
4. Body/Skin/Hair care
5. Services e.g Education, Oil & Gas etc.
2019 despite the prevailing economic climate has been a year of growth for many members. The sheer amount of capacity building that members have received, if implemented will scale up our businesses. Many small business fail because their owners mistake their passion for a field for the desire to run a business in that field but successful business owners know that the business of business- marketing, costing, financing, hiring, firing, training, planning, negotiating, purchasing, balancing the books, record-keeping, maintaining the physical plant, resolving employee tiffs and much more- must receive primary attention if their passion is to have a safe haven. AWEP provides these and more and we say to all our potential, new, old and founding members, love your passion but know your business.

We want to use this opportunity to thank very warmly our partners and sponsors who have contributed in raising the level of some of our businesses to a higher level. I wish to thank the following:
1. SheTrades for the unparalleled insightful and highly impactful capacity training they keep providing. Also, for the visibility and scalability through local, International Trade shows and Exhibitions they sponsor our members to in various sectors. We had 5 members in Cologne, Germany this year attending the Anuga Food Fair, which is the biggest food fair in Europe. Some are going for the Spices fair in Paris later this year. Two of our members were specially trained in Export Strategies so they can train others, their support has been invaluable.
2. Nigeria Export Promotion Council who sponsored 3 members for the Aid to Artisan training in New York and who regularly organizes trainings and export boot camps. They have also co-funded our upcoming National Directory.
3. The US Embassy who sponsored some of the Executive members to the 2019 AGOA forum in Abidjan.
4. SMEDAN who regularly trains us and has opened the China market to some members. They also gave us great institutional support to ensure a smooth running of the association. They are our great partner as each year they sponsor a number of our members to the Abuja International Trade Fair.
5. Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment who generously donated an office for our use and keep helping us find support for our various programs.
There are others I might have missed but we truly appreciate all our partners, every little help counts and is very much appreciated.

In conclusion, I would want to speak on our Theme this year, “Positioning for Funding”. Many women complain of lack of access to finance but research has also shown that many are not positioned to receive such monies, some don’t even need it and some don’t know where to go or what type of funding is available or needed for their businesses. We are highly honoured to have the Speakers who will be looking at all that is needed to be positioned for funding from brand management to proper record keeping.
Our Keynote Speaker, Dr. Lanre Philips is a seasoned professional who has an unusual passion for the growth of SMEs. He is on the Faculty of many training organisations and is a member of board of several organisations.
Our high powered panel comprising of Ajuma Ataguba, Export Strategy Development Consultant for SheTrades and Principal Consultant for The Learning Gate, is an authority on bankable business plans and export strategy.
Ekaette Umoh, MD/CEO Ekaville Consulting, a Chartered Accountant and a certified Microfinance banker. She’s on the Faculty of the Enterprise Development Centre (EDC) of the LAGOS Business School and the author of ‘ASPIRE’, a book to guide entrepreneurs in starting a Successful Business
Amede Achingale, CEO/MD Bosaz Global Ventures Ltd. She is currently the National cluster Head for Agriculture/Food processing and has a knack for crowdfunding projects. Powerful; mobile encyclopedia of Business accounting; Banker per excellence and several other partners are also here to share with us and we also have a business clinic segment.
We also have new services and projects like:
1. Mylaw
2. Onboarding process
3. AWEP National Directory
4. CSR Projects
It has been a very busy year and our prayer is that we are all positioned to soar in 2020. I celebrate all our members who are holding on despite the tough terrain and I challenge them to do more in 2020, be more active in your clusters and zones, be registered on the SheTrades platform, act on information received, learn new things daily, ask questions and be prepared to dare to be different. When we do the best we can, we never know what miracle is wrought in our life or in the life of another. Go out there Ladies in 2020 and be the best you can. Thank you all for listening.

Signed
Angela Ajala
President AWEP Nigeria chapter