American oil giant, ExxonMobil, has made investments worth over $100 million in initiatives and projects, aimed at empowering women, it was learnt.
This emerged during an event to mark this year’s Women’s Day in Lagos titled: “Women in Nigeria (WIN) exhibition & conference.” It was rganised by WEConnect International, a non-governmental organisation focused on women economic empowerment and sponsored by ExxonMobil with other global partners of WEConnect such as Procter & Gamble, IBM, Accenture and Ernst & Young, ExxonMobil was said to have spent multi-million dollars on issues that concern women.
In a presentation titled: “Nigeria – The Journey So Far – Marketplace & Opportunities,” ExxonMobil Nigeria’s Operations Procurement Manager, Judith Mbonu, said the company had invested over $100 million in support of women empowerment initiatives in over 90 countries around the world, including Nigeria.
Mbonu said the investments made under the firm’s Women’s Economic Opportunity Initiative (WEOI), were aimed at helping women achieve their economic potentials towards improving the socio-economic conditions of their respective communities, adding that it had benefitted tens of thousands of women in those countries.
She also said the ExxonMobil upstream companies in Nigeria transacted business with women-owned companies in 2016 to the tune of over $24 million in furtherance of this economic empowerment objective. She added that ExxonMobil’s support for women economic empowerment stemmed from the firm’s strong belief that “when women move forward, the world moves with them.
“We also know that when women control their income, they usually invest in the health, education and well-being of their families and communities, thereby benefitting the entire society.”
She said ExxonMobil supports WEConnect at global and local levels, adding that the firm had implemented a number of other intitiatives aimed at the sustainable economic empowerment of women in Nigeria.
Mbonu, who is also the Chairperson of the WEConnect Advisory Council in Nigeria, urged women to use networking towards making their businesses more competitive and successful. “You need to network locally, regionally and internationally,” she said.
She also gave some tips to women business owners on improving their success rate with multinational companies and large corporate organisations. The tips included safety, building specialised skills, good business ethics, willingness to adapt to change and disciplined execution of contractual obligations.
ExxonMobil’s Global Sustainable Procurement Manager, Nancy Swartout, who was the international guest speaker at the WIN event, in her presentation titled: “Global Support for WEConnect International,” offered more insight into ExxonMobil’s global strategy for women empowerment.
Swartout said ensuring diversity was a key aspect of ExxonMobil’s operations, adding that the corporation spent $33 million on its Global Supplier Diversity Programme outside the United States (U.S.) in 2016, exceeding its target of $25 million. According to her, the $24 million business volume achieved with women-owned organisations by ExxonMobil affiliates in Nigeria, represented 74 per cent of total spent.
The Keynote Speaker at the event and Executive Vice Chairman of Famfa Oil Limited, Mrs. Folorunsho Alakija, who spoke on the theme of the conference “Bold Steps for Big Change,” lamented that “half of the world’s greatest resource are being blocked from reaching their potential due to the fact that they belong to the female gender”.
She urged the women to step up and take bold, ground-breaking actions towards improving the success rate and impact of their companies, using her personal business experience. She urged women entrepreneurs to persevere till they succeed in business.
Mrs. Alakija commended ExxonMobil’s investments in the economic empowerment of women. “We should use ExxonMobil as an example for other oil companies and organisations not just in Nigeria, but worldwide for its support to various businesses of women,” she said.
WEConnect International Country Director of in Nigeria, Shade Ladipo, said the organisation partners ExxonMobil and others to train women on the workings of multinationals and large organisations. Some of the trainings are on bidding and procurement processes as well as how to compete effectively with their male counterparts in winning business from such organisations.