By G9ija

Stanbic IBTC Bank PLC has partnered the United Nations (UN)  to provide seed funding for women across the six geopolitical zones of Nigeria and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

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 budget of $40million for five years from last year to 2023, the initiative targets six states: 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 Organisation, International Labour Organisation (ILO) and United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (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  provided seed funding to support women working in the shea nut and rice value chains in Niger and Ebonyi states.

The pilot programme is expected to reach at least 30 women-owned agribusiness organisations and cooperatives in five local government 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.