Facebook has partnered She Leads Africa (SLA) to launch #SheMeansBusiness, an initiative designed to inspire and train female entrepreneurs in Nigeria to start, build and grow their own businesses.

In a recent study conducted by Development Economics on behalf of Facebook, it was estimated that businesses set up by women in Nigeria over the next five years (by 2022), hold the key to unlocking N19.7 billion for the economy, with the opportunity of creating a further 8.9 million additional jobs.

Speaking during the launch at Four Points By Sheraton, Lekki Lagos, yesterday, Facebook Public Policy Director, Africa, Ebele Okobi, said the place of women in the overall well-being of the economy cannot be over-emphasised.

“We know that when women do better, economies do better. The study conducted by Development Economics further highlights this, with research suggesting that an estimated 7 million new businesses could be set up by women in Nigeria by 2021 – placing a greater importance on the role of women’s entrepreneurial ambitions for overall economic and social development in the country,” Okobi said.

Partnering with She Leads Africa (SLA), #SheMeansBusiness Nigeria is the first to launch in sub-Saharan Africa and will bring together thousands of female entrepreneurs in a series of day workshops and training sessions across six cities in Nigeria, including Lagos, Kaduna, Port Harcourt, Ibadan, Abuja and Aba.

Applications opened on March 27, 2018 at sheleadsafrica.org/shemeansbusiness, and will have training sessions which will then be followed by post-training clinics aimed at re-engaging, advising and mentoring participants.

As part of the launch, a dedicated #SheMeansBusiness website will also be developed to feature inspiring stories from female trailblazers who are following their dreams. These are the entrepreneurs who are redefining what’s possible for women in business in Nigeria – inspiring those who might one day become new entrepreneurs themselves

Also promised on the site are free tools and resources – online courses to give more women across Nigeria the tools, support and practical advice they need to grow their businesses, access and information to a link of communities who can help advise and direct on setting and achieving business goals

Commenting on the partnership and trainings, Co-Founder of She Leads Africa, Afua Osei, said it is an initiative aimed at training and empowering thousands of female entrepreneurs across Nigeria.

She said: “We’re excited to continue our partnership with Facebook to expand access to the digital skills necessary to move African businesses forward. We know that with the right tools and support, African women can compete on a global level and we look forward to taking these critical digital tools to entrepreneurs all across Nigeria.

Facebook’s SMB Sales Manager, EMEA, Abi Williams, said #SheMeansBusiness aims to empower personal business ambitions and create opportunities for would-be entrepreneurs in Nigeria to meet and learn from others.

She said: “In Nigeria women form the backbone of a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem, with the number of new women-owned small business Pages on Facebook increasing by 319 per cent between 2016 and 2017.”

Calculations were made by Development Economics using data from the Future of Business survey commissioned by Facebook in Nigeria, and surveys undertaken by the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) in Nigeria.