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NASME Women Lagos Chapter Celebrates International Women’s Day 2019



The Nigeria Association of Small and Medium Enterprises is the apex Business membership organization (BMO) in Nigeria that was established to co-ordinate the promotion of micro, small and medium enterprises.

All around the world, gender equality advocates are spearheading a discussion around this year’s theme, #balanceforbetter, pressing for a more gender-balanced government participation, workplace and economic empowerment. Different organisations, associations and groups create awareness for a world where women will have equal rights with their male counterparts. NASME Women (Lagos Chapter) was not left out in this year’s celebration as they organised a two day event in honor of the women’s day which took place on the 7th and 11th of March, 2019.

To flag off this year’s women’s day, NASME Women (Lagos chapter) in collaboration with the Association of Nigeria Women Business Network (ANWBN) organized a walk which took place on the 7th of March in all 36 states of the federation simultaneously.

The Women Leader, NASME Lagos, Otunba Gbemi Oduntan, in her speech highlighted the different ways women are striving hard to deliver beyond expectations in all that they do and how they are not equivalently recognized yet for their efforts. She pointed out that the Theme for this year IWD; ‘Balance for Better’ is so apt in demanding an equitable recognition in reward, remuneration and acceptance in all that the womenfolk do, starting from inclusion of Women in the NASME National Council and other Local and National official positions of Service and Leadership across the country.

In her International Women’s Day message, Dr Jumoke Kassim, the PRO of NASME Women listed their focus for this year’s celebration.  She pointed out the fact that women have to work extra, balancing the home front with the office work, just for them to be recognised. She also spoke on the seven point’s agenda charter bill as presented by the Association of Nigerian Women Business Network to the government which includes but not limited to:

  • 40% Inclusion of women in government.
  • Resolving issues of multiple taxation.
  • Patronage of made in Nigeria goods.
  • Ease of access to funds for all women.
  • Implementation of government policies for women in government amongst others.

Day two of the event was tagged “Gender Balance Drives a Better World”. The event was graced by lots of important personals from all works of life including government officials. Mrs. Funmilayo Ibrahim, Dir. Of Cooperatives, represented the Commisssioner for Commerce, Industry & Cooperative; Mrs. Olayinka Oladunjoye, while Mrs. Funmi Blaize, Dir. Of Admin & Human Resources represented the Commissioner for Women & Poverty Alleviation- Mrs. Lola Akande. Mrs. Seriki Bello , Dir. Of Employment, Min of Wealth Creation represented the Commissioner; Mrs. Uzamat Akinbile-Yusuf.

Mr. Solomon Aderoju, the chairman of NASME (Lagos chapter) during his speech as read by Mrs. Victoria Oluwasanya, the Vice President of NASME Lagos pointed out that there is need for better life for women in the society due to their huge contribution to the development and growth in the society. He also said that every woman needs empowerment, care and respect for a better balanced world.

The National President NASME, Prince Degun Adeagbo, in his speech extols the importance and contribution of women to nation building through governance at the Federal and State level, and the micro and macro-economy of the country, especially through various micro and small businesses & manufacturing by the women Team and of course at the home front.

Mrs. Funmilayo Ibrahim, Dir. Of Cooperatives, represented the Commisssioner for Commerce, Industry & Cooperative.


Speaking on the first topic, “Let’s Build a Gender Balanced World”. Guest Speaker, Captain Mrs. Bolaji Agbelusi said that Nigeria is really doing well in gender balancing. According to her, in some developed countries, women are still being discriminated in the workplace. They do not receive the same salary as their male counterparts. She connected it to the Nigeria Aviation Industry where there is equal opportunities and expectations for both gender.  Women are now in management positions and they are really doing well.

To further buttress her points, she listed out why the society needs to make gender parity, a priority. This is because a meaningful inclusion of women in decision making will bring effectiveness and productivity in the society. Also, women are good decision makers and great marketers.

According to a survey carried out on about 4,000 companies, which says that companies with women on their board and strategic positions makes as much as 36.5% more profit than those without women.

She ended by saying that until Nigeria create a gender balanced society, she will not improve because women have natural calling for birthing not only physical lives but lives into whatever they do.

Speaking on the second topic “Gender Balance Drives a Better Working World”. Mrs Funke Egbemode (MD, New Telegraph Newspaper) contradicted the popular opinion that says that women are being discriminated against by men. She said it is nature and the responsibility to keep the world moving that limits women. If they don’t take time off to make babies, the world will come to a halt and they will be failing God.

According to her, why gender balance drives a better working world is because of the strength a woman brings into whatever she does. There are several positive changes that take place when a woman gets into the system. Women are good multi-taskers, in terms of balancing both work and home front. They are good communicators too. When the issue of gender inequality is addressed, we will surely have a better working world.

The third and last Guest Speaker Mrs. Oluwaseun Adesoye (Group Executive, TrustBanc Group) talked on “Positioning Yourself for Balance”. She pointed out that it does not stop at chanting for more gender balanced world; rather the questions should be whether they are ready to pay the price that comes with it.  Have they acquired the right skills that will put them in better positioning that will make them key into the balanced world?  She encouraged them to be consistent in whatever they do and to always know that their first responsibility is to themselves.

It was indeed a rewarding experience for all the women in attendance who have been empowered to keep impacting positively on the society.


More images from the event (Cross section of Guests and Speakers)





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Releaf secures $4.2 million in seed funding and grants to drive industrialisation of food processing in Africa



Releaf co-Founders (Image: Supplied)

Releaf, an agtech start-up that develops proprietary hardware and software solutions that makes African farmers and food factories more efficient and profitable, has raised $2.7 million seed funding in a round led by Samurai Incubate Africa, Future Africa and Consonance Investment Managers with participation from Stephen Pagliuca, Chairman of Bain Capital and Justin Kan (Twitch). Releaf also secured $1.5 million in grants from The Challenge Fund for Youth Employment (CFYE) and USAID.

The seed funding will enable the development of industrial food processing technology in Nigeria’s smallholder-driven Oil Palm sector while the grant will enable Releaf to provide working capital and other value-added services for smallholders and small-scale processors. Grant funding will support the training, recruitment and retention of more women and youth in Nigeria Oil Palm sector through the creation of both digital and technical jobs.

Nigeria’s oil palm industry is dominated by smallholder farmers, with 80 percent of local market share. However, production rates are low because many still rely on ineffective processes for de-shelling, including the use of rocks and inappropriate hardware. These ineffective processes also lead to low quality palm kernels which are largely unfit as input for high quality vegetable oil manufacturing. As a result, food factories are unable to purchase these raw materials and operate significantly under capacity. On average, food factories have 3X more installed capacity than utilization, which impacts the cost of food and hampers further investment into processing capacity.

Releaf acts as a bridge between smallholder farmers and food manufacturing companies with its proprietary patent-pending machinery, Kraken. Kraken can process any quality of palm nut into premium quality (95 percent purity) inputs for food factories. Releaf’s software connects the start-up to more than 2,000 smallholder farmers, ensuring consistent, large-scale supply. While palm kernel oil production is not foreign to Nigeria, Releaf’s technology and scale means it can process 500 tonnes of palm nuts per week. The software offerings also allow the start-up to receive inbound supply requests from farmers via USSD, provide working capital financing as well as collect proprietary data on supply availability.

Speaking about the new funding, Ikenna Nzewi, CEO and co-founder of Releaf, said, “our mandate is to industrialize Africa’s food processing industry. This round of funding enables us to develop and prove our technology with smallholder farmers in the oil palm sector. Given Nigerians spend ~60 percent of their income on food and Africa’s population is set to increase by 100,000 people per day over the next three decades, we’re presented with an incredible opportunity to feed more people, reduce consumer costs, and supply the fastest-growing food market in the world. Releaf is committed to harnessing technology to accelerate the economic wealth of rural, agrarian societies throughout the Continent. We firmly believe that a robust real economy is the foundation for long-lasting and shared prosperity for Africans and are excited to deepen partnerships with like-minded organizations, governments, and firms.”

This new funding will enable better productivity and accelerate the eradication of the menial and archaic processes that are prevalent across Nigeria’s oil palm sector and the agriculture sector as a whole. It will also enable Releaf to drive more value and profitability across the oil palm value chain, as well as support direct and ancillary job creation in the farming communities of South and Eastern Nigeria.

Rena Yoneyama, Managing Partner at Samurai Incubate Africa who led the round commented, “Releaf’s novel approach to operating within the value chain with proprietary technology set it aside from many agtech startups we have spoken to. We believe the firm’s thesis on decentralizing food processing would have a strong match with Africa’s economic development landscape for the next few decades. Ikenna and Uzo are the perfect founders to disrupt this market in Nigeria and beyond. We are thrilled to back them as they innovate in providing both agro-processing and financial services to rural communities and farmers.”

Iyin Aboyeji, General Partner at Future.Africa noted, “more than 50% of the goods in supermarkets globally contain glycerine – an extract made from palm oil – a cash crop that is passed down from generation to generation. The team at Releaf is building the agro-allied industry of the future from the ground up starting with palm oil which they have developed novel technology to aggregate, deshell and process into critical ingredients like vegetable oil and glycerine. Future Africa is delighted to back Releaf to build the future of modern agriculture”

Dr. Nneka Enwonwu, Country Relationship Manager, from The Challenge Fund for Youth Employment (CFYE) said, “We are thrilled to partner with Releaf on their mission to improve efficiency and profitability for farmers and food factories in Africa. The founders’ vision and the team’s enthusiasm gave us confidence that Releaf will deliver real value for rural communities and create digital/technical jobs for women and youth. We are looking forward to their results and success over the coming years and continuing to support their work.”

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CEO Corner

Graça Machel Trust Appoints Melizsa Mugyenyi as New Chief Executive Officer



Graça Machel Trust New CEO, Ms. Melizsa Mugyenyi (Image: Supplied)

Board of Trustees of the Graça Machel Trust, announces that Ms. Melizsa Mugyenyi has been appointed as the new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and commences her tenure in this leadership role as of September 6, 2021.

A Ugandan by birth, and residing in Kenya currently, Ms. Mugyenyi brings to the Graça Machel Trust an impressive range of executive management and strategic partnership building skills, as well as extensive experience working in multi-country settings. We look forward to her leadership to expand our Pan African programming, nurture our diverse women’s empowerment Networks, and develop the necessary relationships to fortify our resource base and long-term sustainability.


Ms. Mugyenyi will spearhead the conceptualization and implementation of a bold new Strategic Plan for our institution and take our work of social and economic transformation to greater scale and impact. The Board has every confidence in Ms. Mugyenyi and her ability to effectively steer our organization, in conjunction with our staff and stakeholders, to augment our impact on the African continent and expand our thought leadership globally.

“We are grateful to Dr. Shungu Gwarinda, who steadfastly served as our Interim CEO, driving us forward with a determined focus on advancing the rights of Africa’s women and children, and strengthening our institution and Networks during this interim period.  Dr. Gwarinda will be actively supporting this management transition and will resume concentrating her leadership in her substantive role as Director of Programmes.  We are grateful for her invaluable contributions to further the mission of the Graça Machel Trust”. said Mrs. Graҫa Machel, Founder and Chairperson of the Graҫa Machel Trust

To our valued partners, both current and future, we look forward to positively transforming the lives of Africa’s women and children together with you as we enter this exciting new chapter of our institution’s journey.


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Press Release

Pezesha Raises Seven-figure Seed Extension from GreenHouse Capital to Fuel Expansion of its Embedded Credit Infrastructure across Africa



Pezesha team (Image: Supplied)

Pezesha, a pan-African fintech company building scalable lending infrastructure for SMEs and institutions, today announced the close of a seven-figure growth funding round led by GreenHouse Capital (GHC). In addition to GHC’s investment, Pezesha received on-lending liquidity support from GHC’s sister company Venture Garden Group (VGG). These financing milestones will support Pezesha’s continued growth across Africa and its mission to expand access to affordable working capital for SMEs.

Pezesha is solving Africa’s $82 billion working capital and trade finance access problems by enabling non-traditional finance institutions to offer working capital to SMEs using Pezesha’s lending infrastructure. The company has built robust APIs to originate quality SMEs and original credit scoring models that allow capital to flow efficiently and productively. Pezesha’s new partnership with VGG will expand the capital available for Pezesha and its institutional partners to lend to SMEs. Pezesha previously raised capital from Consonance and Seedstars.

Hilda Moraa, CEO and Founder of Pezesha, commented, “we are delighted to have GreenHouse Capital join the Pezesha family. We are aligned in vision as well as our commitment to solving the working capital challenges that are preventing African SMEs from achieving their full growth potential. GHC’s investment will catapult our growth by enabling us to scale our existing partnerships with the likes of Twiga Foods, Jumia, Marketforce, and Popote Pay, among others. More so, the investment will unlock our vision of building the operating system to power embedded finance in Africa”

Ruby Nimkar, Principal at GreenHouse Capital, added, “Pezesha is breaking down barriers to SME financing by taking an ecosystem approach to the problem of access to capital. Their embedded finance model is truly groundbreaking, and we have full confidence in Hilda and her talented team to take their model into new markets and continuously close the SME financing gap across Africa.”

Bunmi Akinyemiju, CEO of Venture Garden Group, commented, “Pezesha’s innovative model is driving capital to the African SMEs that need it the most. We are excited to be partnering with them to expand their access to funds that they can use for their on-lending liquidity.”

Pezesha has scaled its lending infrastructure in Kenya, Ghana, and Nigeria and is planning to launch in Uganda in September of 2021.



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