The United States Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Middle East and Africa, Camille Richardson, participated in a roundtable with leading women business leaders and entrepreneurs as part of her virtual visit to Nigeria.
The roundtable featured Ifeyinwa Afe, Managing Director for Central Africa at HP; Temitope Iluyemi, Senior Director of Global Government Relations & Public Policy (Africa) at Procter and Gamble; Christina Struller, Vice President of Public Affairs at UPS; Vani Malik, General Manager at Kimberly Clark; and Margaret Olele, Chief Executive Officer of the American Business Council.
Deputy Assistant Secretary Richardson and the participants shared valuable perspectives on women’s entrepreneurship and potential for business relations between women-led businesses in the United States and Nigeria. They also discussed efforts to help confront the common challenges businesswomen face in their business endeavors.
“As both of our economies are actively engaged in recovery from the global pandemic, increased participation of women in business and as entrepreneurs is needed to help drive economic growth,” Deputy Assistant Secretary Richardson said.
At the roundtable, American Business Council CEO Margaret Olele described how the organization works to inspire and empower women to attain leadership roles in management and business. She also highlighted the ABC’s work with the Foreign Commercial Service of the U.S. Department of Commerce and its engagement with the Nigerian public and private sectors to promote mutually beneficial trade and investment.
During the roundtable, Deputy Assistant Secretary Richardson underscored the U.S. government’s support for women’s inclusive participation in Nigerian society and noted that accelerating women’s economic empowerment is critical to ensuring developing countries can achieve economic self-reliance and transition from being aid partners to trade partners.
As an advocate for women’s empowerment and entrepreneurship, Deputy Assistant Secretary Richardson communicated the U.S. Department of Commerce’s priorities including the Women Empowered Leave Legacies through Trade and Investment (WELLTI) initiative, which provides a platform to offer U.S. government support for U.S. businesswomen and their counterparts engaged in trade and investment between the United States and Africa and the Middle East.
“Women continue to demonstrate that when provided with market information, access to finance and the right networks, there is no limit to what they can accomplish. This is the inspiration behind WELLTI. We are connecting women to information and networks to facilitate their ability to enter and/or expand into markets across Africa and the Middle East. Women entrepreneurs and business leaders are needed now more than ever!” Deputy Assistant Secretary Richardson explained.
As part of the WELLTI initiative, she expressed her commitment to host follow-on activities with businesswomen across Africa and Middle East to introduce these markets and successful market entry strategies to U.S. businesswomen and entrepreneurs. On July 13, Deputy Assistant Secretary Richardson noted that she will participate in a virtual conference that will engage women entrepreneurs and business leaders from Nigeria, Egypt, Morocco, South Africa, and the United Arab Emirates.