The Joan Agha Foundation recently held the seventh edition of its annual lecture for women entrepreneurs in Lagos, with the organisation’s founder, Joan Agha declaring that empowering women economically was key to improving the economy.
She claimed that women owned 30 per cent of registered businesses in Nigeria, citing the latest Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) annual survey, which showed that women ran 41 per cent of early stage businesses.
“They (women) are more eager to establish new businesses than their male folks. The high success rate of these businesses shows that women are more focused and resourceful than their male counterparts.
“The future of a nation is in its women’s active involvement in entrepreneurship activities. It is expedient that Nigerian government embraces women entrepreneurship in order to accelerate the pace of economic growth and development,” she said.
Keynote speaker and principal consultant, Habiba Balogun Consulting, Mrs Habiba Balogun spoke on ‘Empowering the nation through Women Empowerment.’
She said: “Sometimes we keep that door closed. If women can get good mentoring, you would just see some of them fly. ‘Empower women, you empower a nation’ is a known refrain, not because women are so special but the literal fact that they are one leg the country needs for stability.”
She maintained that Nigeria would not develop until it has empowered its women. “We are human beings first before we talk about men and woman. We also have a right to life, health and work just like the men, hence the need for women empowerment.
“Empowerment is the authority or power given to one to do something, though it doesn’t work for women because nobody is going to give them that authority and power. They have to fight for it and women are not doing enough to take the power. So, if we are waiting to be empowered by men, it is not going to happen,” she noted.
Balogun said that Nigerian women want an empowerment that could enable them stand shoulder to shoulder as fellow human beings.
“We need to be empowered on all fronts: educational, political, economic, and health. The sustainable development goal number 5 is gender equality; equal opportunities and equal human rights. We cannot succeed if half of us are held back.”
Chairman Board of Trustees (BoT) of the foundation, Pastor Andy Otike-Obaro, while taking participants through financial knowledge examined the Financial Act of 2019, as it affected entrepreneurs, investment avenues and determines investment decisions as well as objectives of the Act. He noted that essential goal of the Act was to generate more money for government.
“Government has recognised the place of micro and small firms in Nigeria. Hitherto government was charging the micro and small firms 15 per cent tax but now it has come to zero per cent, which provides avenue for operators in SMEs to operate unhindered. One of the requirements of the Act was that everybody must have the tax identification number (TIN).
“The heart of the Act is that it classifies companies into three: limited liability, micro and small and medium scale enterprises. The Act is meant to bring limited liability companies into the tax net, not registered business names, which has nothing to do with FIRS.
“Medium Scale Enterprises is not about the number of employees or how big its structure is, but on their turnover. To be classified as micro and small firm, the turnover per year must vary from N25 million or bellow, and operators in this category of business are not permitted to pay tax. They run their businesses tax and VAT free and also exempted from filling in monthly VAT returns.
“Medium scale enterprises is for high-end operators. Its turnover must contrast from N25 million to N100 million. Tax rate given to operators in this group is 20 per cent and minimum tax rate that applies to operators is 0.5 per cent of turnover. VAT is 7.5 per cent, and they must submit VAT returns every month.
“Those who belong to limited liability companies category, the turnover must be N100 million and above, tax rate is 10 per cent and VAT is 7.5 per cent. Operators are also required to submit VAT and tax returns,” he informed
A medical consultant, Dr Adeyelu Olusola spoke on the topic: ‘Suffering in the midst of abundance diabetics.’
He said: “It is systemic and sufferers are advised to eat everything a patient can eat seven times a day in small portions, avoid junks and smoking. The causes are multifarious and it is curable. It can be hereditary or environmental and has type one and two. Type one is from birth while type two is acquired,” he said.
He noted that diabetics could be caused by age, lifestyle, chemical anxiety and obesity. He added that for men, there could be erectile dysfunction. He said: “As a man grows old, his penis goes down but it is both treatable and manageable. For a woman, there is a pregnancy loss at second and third trimester and deformities can also occur.”
A panel of four female discussants also shared their experiences of business start-ups. Olatoyosi Agbolade, Finance and Budget coordinator and Lagos chairperson Women In PENGASSAN (WIP) moderated the session.