Mary Olushoga


The AWP Network Initiative has unveiled Patience Salifu of CondimentPlus, Ogola Lois Kange of Smiley’z Mobile Kitchen, Olufunmilola Shelika of Gef’s Smoked Edibles, Ebun Feludu of JAM – The Coconut Food Company, Chigozie Bashua of The Nutplace Ventures, Patrick Karunwi of Kalos Agro Homes, Boma Whyte of Kringle Cookies, and Chidimma Uzoma-Mba of Zayith Yogurt as selected vendors to supply ShopRite Nigeria.

The competitive AWP Network Vendor programme, which launced last year on July 15, 2020, received over 2,500 vendor applications. Only 100 vendors were accepted into the programme, while 61 vendors were certified to complete the programme and received the opportunity to pitch their products to ShopRite Nigeria. The programme in collaboration with ShopRite provides a real life opportunity for women entrepreneurs in Nigeria to get their products out into the marketplace.

The AWP Network Vendor programme will continue to work with small business owners who are interested in operating as suppliers, by working to recruit additional retailers as partners. The AWP Network also plans to invest more in food manufacturing and innovative programs.

Mary Olushoga, Founder of the AWP Network states, “Clearly, we see that this is a competitive program however, we need to do more to improve and increase a healthy food supply chain pipeline. Congratulations to the vendors accepted and approved to supply to ShopRite.”

In addition to pitching to ShopRite Nigeria’s Head of Procurement, Dawid Moelich; program participants also got the opportunity to pitch to Shimite Bello, Executive Assistant on Export Initiatives and Coordinator at the Delta State Government Unido Center, and Adaorie Udechukwu, Gender Specialist at the IFC.

The AWP Network vendor programme aims to increase the number of women entrepreneurs who supply to large retailers in a strategic manner. The AWP network Vendor program is a capacity building program for local vendors seeking professional guidance regarding best practices and guidelines to become vendor suppliers.

To date, the programme has hosted several expert speakers to include Habeeb Gbenle, Investment Association at Lofty Inc. Capital Management, Ini Abimbola, founder of ThistlePraxis Consulting Limited, Funkola Odeleye, co-founder of DIY Law Nigeria, Jessica Pinard, Raw Materials Specialist, Chinedu Enekwe, founder of Aux21 Capital, Annabel Kamuche, Managing Director at Nicert Limited, Jessica Hope, founder of Wimbart PR, Jola Ayeye, Screenwriter and Producer, Tobi Oreoluwa, Founder and Creative Director of Alaga Collections, Lisa Ebere, Founder of The Digitalist, Stephanie Anyamele, Managing Director of Charles Ardor & Co, Oluwatosin Olaseinde, Co-founder of Money Africa, Dr. Stella Ejiofoh-Alli, Organic Farmer and Gbemisola Oni, Performance Coach.

Nigeria has a long way to go when it comes to women’s rights, as political, religious and cultural nuances continue to shape and can restrict the visibility, participation and leadership roles available to Nigerian women. However, we can start by implementing some of these recommendations and ensure that the women’s justice agenda is created and is a priority at the local, state and federal levels of government.

On April 28, 2019, Matt Obono, convener of the TAP Initiative, reported that 70 women were arrested and taken to the Utako police station in Abuja.

M. M. Obono@martobono

As I type, 70 girls were arrested and brought to Utako Police station last night. This is in addition to the ones who were arrested on Friday night. Their offense; clubbing and in some instance, prostitution. Some have been assaulted with injuries in their vaginas.1,9431:08 PM – Apr 28, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacy3,456 people are talking about this

Their offence? Partying at a nightclub. But it did not stop there.

Obono reported allegations of sexual abuse and molestation. “The joint task force who arrested these girls also molested and sexually assaulted them,” he said.

In a bid to justify their illegal arrest and detention, the 70 women were accused of crimes they did not commit. These women were publicly shamed, humiliated and paraded by the Nigerian authorities before the media while the rest of the world watched. This is not the first time that the Nigerian government will impede on and violate the rights of Nigerian women.

Only two years ago, Dorothy Njemanze, Edu Ene Okoro, Justina Etim and Amarachi Jessyforth won a lawsuit against the Nigerian government, and were each awarded damages in the sum of six million naira (about $16,500) after they were abducted, unlawfully detained, and assaulted sexually, physically, and verbally at different times between Janaury 2011 and March 2013 in the hands of the Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB) and other government agencies, such as the police and the military.

They were arrested and accused of being prostitutes simply on the grounds that they were found on the streets at night.

Nigeria has a long way to go when it comes to women’s rights and attaining gender equality. In 2016, I penned the article, “A Year in Review: What It Means to be a Woman in Nigeria,” where I tried to enunciate the many issues facing women in our country. Since writing the article, not much has improved for women in Nigeria, in spite of the numerous organizations fighting tirelessly for gender equality and women’s rights. However, these women are pushing the envelope for good, and must be commended. Political nuances, religious and cultural beliefs continue to hinder on our progress.

To date, the Gender and Equal Opportunities Bill is yet to be passed, and has been voted against repeatedly by Nigerian lawmakers, majority of whom are men. (Women in parliament constitute just 5.6 percent). To date, there remains a lack of visible female leadership in politics, policy and governance, and there continues to be an absence of women’s participation in crucial decision making circles from business to technology.

Here are examples:

Seeing these photos from an appreciation dinner for Lagos State’s incoming governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, one is only left wondering, where are the women?

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Babajide Sanwo-Olu@jidesanwoolu

A big thank you to the organisers of the special appreciation dinner yesterday in Lagos.

There is a lot of work ahead of us, but we are ready and gearing to go

We are open to new & innovative ideas that will help us build #ForAGreaterLagos3806:34 PM – Apr 28, 201990 people are talking about thisTwitter Ads info and privacy

These from the Foundation for Good Governance for Development in Nigeria also beg the same question. Not represented at the event are women leaders from President Muhammadu Buhari’s team.

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View image on Twitter
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Government of Nigeria@AsoRock


President @MBuhari today receieved a delegation of the Foundation for Good Governance for Development in Nigeria, led by Dr Arado Ibrahim Bayo, at the State House in Abuja. #AsoVillaToday986:50 PM – Apr 23, 201927 people are talking about thisTwitter Ads info and privacy

In a conversation with Angela Merkel, the first female chancellor of Germany, President Buhari, in 2016, made it clear that women (referring to his wife Aisha Buhari)only belong to the kitchen and to the bedroom. To date, he is yet to apologize for his comments about women.

Chief Executive Officer of Alpha Reach and popular social media commentator, J.J. Omojuwa wrote, “Nigeria is desperate for women in politics and governance” as he posted a photograph of Nigeria’s all male leadership team.View image on Twitter

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JJ. Omojuwa@Omojuwa

Nigeria is desperate for more women in politics and governance.1605:16 PM – Apr 24, 201984 people are talking about thisTwitter Ads info and privacy

What can be done to improve the participation of women across all sectors? What can we do, as active citizens, to ensure progress in gender equality and women’s rights: Here are a few

  • Pass the Gender and Equal Opportunities Bill.
  • Fund and support women’s organizations and initiatives as women’s rights organizations help to strengthen the links between leaders and the women in the communities they represent.
  • Encourage and implement women’s participation in leadership roles at the local, state and federal levels of government.
  • Establish a sex offenders’ registry and database. Despite an overwhelming number of reported cases of sexual assaults, Nigeria has recorded only eighteen rape convictions in its legal history in a country of 190 million people.
  • Protect women and girls in Nigeria through new laws and policies; this will help Nigeria achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and Agenda on Women and Girls.

Indeed, Nigeria has a long way to go when it comes to women’s rights, as political, religious and cultural nuances continue to shape and can restrict the visibility, participation and leadership roles available to Nigerian women. However, we can start by implementing some of these recommendations and ensure that the women’s justice agenda is created and is a priority at the local, state and federal levels of government.

The women’s justice agenda will advance, implement and improve the reproductive, economic, political and social rights for all Nigerian women. The women’s justice agenda will ensure that the Nigerian government will be held accountable, and will remain at the forefront of this critical fight to protect women’s rights and ensure fairness for all women living in Nigeria.

Credit: Bella Naija

The African Women Power (AWP) Network recently hosted leading African women in technology to an engaging conversation on what it means to be a woman in technology.

The conversation explored the challenges and the progress made so far in the STEM fields with regards to women and girls in Nigeria.

Stakeholders were invited to join the conversation, which was led by Mary Olushoga, Founder of AWP Network. In attendance were Saudat Salami, Founder, EasyshopEasycook.com; Tolulope Adeyemo, Program Director, The WAAW Foundation; Nkemdilim Begho, Founder, FutureSoftware Resources; Abisoye Ajayi of Pearls Africa and the honorable Ubong King

Itoro Eze-Anaba, Founder of the Mirabel Rape Crisis Center was honoured at the AWP Network ‘Get Connected’ Forum for her dedication, service and commitment to women and girls empowerment in Nigeria. Founded in 2013, the Mirabel Centre is a sexual assault referral centre established to provide free holistic, high quality medical and psychosocial services to survivors of sexual assault and rape. The centre is managed by Partnership for Justice and is located at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital.

Mary Olushoga, Founder of the AWP Network states, “In 2015, Itoro Eze-Anaba was listed as a ‘AWP Network Power Woman’ for her work. That same year, her organisation was recognised by the AWP Network as one of 14 leading organisations changing the lives of Nigerian women and girls. I am indeed honoured to have established a platform that recognises African women and girls serving their local communities. My team and I were very excited to put this Forum together, as such conversations are needed in a society that does not fully recognise sexual assault, harassment, and violence as crimes against humanity.”

Olushoga continues, “We are glad to establish a platform that allows us to hear directly from those doing the ground work. Those who do this work are usually not recognised. These organisations struggle with everything from funding to staff recruitment. We hope that we can continue to shed light on their work so that the government, private organisations and volunteers can continue to support their efforts. It is a wonderful opportunity for me to provide a platform for leaders, for women, doing amazing work in their various communities, and especially to Itoro, thank you for all that you do and for inspiring the next generation of African women and girls.”

Eze-Anaba stated as she received her award, “Thank you to the AWP Network for honouring me with this award. It is really a pleasant surprise. Thank you to AWP Network founder, Mary Olushoga for the opportunity to speak about my work, my passion and commitment providing hope to survivors of rape and sexual violence. Also, thank you to my staff for all of the work that they do.”

On this day, the AWP Network hosted a panel on Sexual Harassment and Assault in the Workplace,’ it was at this event that Eze-Anaba received her award. Speaking on the panel were the following stakeholders, Jolaoluwa Ayeye, Representative of the Stand To End Rape Initiative, Iheoma Obibi – Ashoka Fellow, Feminist and Founder of Intimate Pleasures, Nigeria’s first online adult novelty shop, Blessing Timidi Digha-Omolere – Women Deliver Young Leader, Feminist, and girl-child/sexual reproductive health and rights advocate, who came all the way from Ondo state to Lagos for the event. This event took place at the JobMag Center in Yaba, Lagos.

Are you an entrepreneur in Nigeria, here are 7 funding programs you should know.

For many entrepreneurs around the world, access to financing is a major concern. In “Listening and Learning for Success – What Nigerian Women Entrepreneurs Need,” I describe the needs of women entrepreneurs in Nigeria. Amongst the top issues discussed, was finding methods to reduce the costs associated with doing business in Nigeria and the need for competitive interest rates on loan products. Many young entrepreneurs in Nigeria feel that they cannot start a business because they do not have access to the capital required, and those who have started a business feel that there is little to no access to capital to expand or move on to the next level. It is important to highlight the grants, competitions, and prizes available to entrepreneurs around the world. Some of these funding programs are annual, while others are a one-time event. This article aims to inform entrepreneurs living in Nigeria of seven (7) funding programs to know. Some of these government programs and private organizations seek to increase accessibility, equality, and transparency by supporting the growth, development, and sustainability of businesses in Nigeria.

  • The Government Enterprise and Empowerment Program (GEEP) – GEEP is an initiative of the federal government of Nigeria and Bank of Industry. The GEEP program offers a no-interest loan scheme with a one-time 5 percent administrative fee for costs. GEEP to date has disbursed 23,400 loans to artisans, traders, farmers and entrepreneurs across 13 states. You can make GEEP part of your success story by applying for funding here. http://www.boi.ng/marketreg/
  • The Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF) – this is an initiative of the Lagos State government. The mission of the fund is to create employment and wealth for all Lagosians. The fund wants to target 100,000 small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) by 2019. Through the fund, entrepreneurs receive a loan at 5 percent interest rate per annum. It is also important to note that 20 percent of SMEs in Nigeria call Lagos home. Participants of this program have received funding as high as 5 million Naira.
  • The Made in Nigeria Business Challenge (MINC) – this is an initiative of the Senate President, Bukola Saraki’s office. The challenge was created to promote nation building and to celebrate everything uniquely Nigerian. The ‘Made-In-Nigeria’ challenge provides entrepreneurs with locally sourced products a platform to connect with government officials, agencies and an opportunity to discuss how the Senate President can continue to support entrepreneurial efforts through policy changes and legislation.
  • The Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurial Program (TEEP) – is an initiative by the Tony Elumelu Foundation that provides a $5000 seed capital to enterprising young people with good ideas. TEEP requires its program participants to attend an intensive business training and mentoring course. To date, the program has reached a total of 51 African countries with an investment of over $ 4 million.
  • LoftyInc Capital Management (LCM) – is an initiative of Idris Bello and partners. The firm recently announced the launch of a new $25 million fund for African entrepreneurs, which will focus on early stage Africa-facing enterprises that leverage technologies to create social impact and tackle big problems.
  • The AWP Network – founded by Mary Olushoga is a platform powering business success for African entrepreneurs. The platform helps you to turn your ideas into a reality. What can you expect from visiting the site, you can: read a story about an entrepreneur, attend an event, learn how to apply for various business grants and competitions, how to pitch, write a business plan, create a pitch deck and be connected to experts from around the world.
  • Omojuwa Small Business Support Fund (SBS) – is the initiative of Japheth Omojuwa, chief strategist at Alpha Reach, the small business support fund provides grants ranging from 50,000 to 120, 000 naira to business owners in need of funding support. The purpose of the fund is to help young Nigerian entrepreneurs starting a business, it also provides existing businesses with the additional cash flow to move forward. The fund recently disbursed over 2 million naira to over 30 businesses. In addition, will help awarded entrepreneurs with website development services, media and professional support as well as business development training from volunteers.

Have more programs, organizations or firms that we should know about? Please share, email: mary (at) awpnetwork.com