It was the largest gathering of women on Thursday at the Eko Hotel and Suites Convention Center when Access and Diamond Bank celebrated the International Women’s Day.
With the theme, Balance For Better, more than 6, 000 women in attendance learnt from the experiences of fellow women who are experts in different field of endeavour on how they have been able to build successful businesses.
Ada Udechukwu, head Women Banking, Access Bank, who was one of the initiators of the event, said Access Bank initially planned for 750 women but the bank was amazed by the number of women who registered online to attend the event.
“Women are taking themselves seriously. Women now pay bills, school fees, rent or mortgage. I truly believe Access bank is taking women seriously as they constitute a large percentage of our customers,” she observed.
Speaking at the opening of the event, Hebert Wigwe, CEO, Access Bank, said the world has moved on from not taking women seriously as issues relating to women have been on the front burner unlike in time past.
“An institution that doesn’t take women seriously is making a great mistake,” he told the gathering. “When you talk about loyalty, just go to a woman. There is a lot happening in politics, business both locally and internationally as it relates to women; and in terms of giving a voice to the voiceless.”
Wigwe said Access and Diamond bank are happy to support women in growing their businesses. “As a bank, we have supported women like Claire Omatseye in pharmacy, Folake Coker of Tiffany Amber in fashion, Nike Ogunlesi, CEO, Ruff n Tumble among other women. We took women whose turnover was zero to a billion naira.”
In addition, Wigwe said Access Bank has developed different products to meet the needs of women in business. According to him, five years after, the bank has been able to develop 40 women.
“We discovered that money isn’t the problem for most women in business, it is building capacity. We provided training and developed them through various programmes. We have trained them in creating succession plans for their business,” he added.
Furthermore, Wigwe said Access Bank launched the W Initiative in 2017, to create a community for women to exchange ideas on how to grow their businesses and network. He said the W Initiative has been playing a pivotal role in the empowerment of women.
Laure Beaufils, deputy British High Commissioner to Nigeria, at the start of her keynote address asked all women in the hall some salient questions which are: ‘who in this hall want women to get equal pay as men? Who wants women to get equal respect as men? She based her discussion on gender equality while advocating for women to push back the push back.
“We must not wait to be given seats at the table, we must get a seat at the table and rearrange the table. Women must resist, insist, persist and enlist. Sometimes, it seems the fight is an individual one, the fight for justice is both individual and collective. There is such a need for sisterhood and we need a deliberate strategy. We must all remember to bring ourselves to work and build on those things that are us rather than seeking to be someone else. We need to give ourselves a break and believe we are more than enough,” she said.