Recently held at Regent Business School in Durban, the Critical Conversations in Sustainability Seminar Series opening night showcased a stellar lineup of speakers, and provided a raft of provocative ideas on what the corporate sector can do to mitigate the excesses of climate change.
The inaugural session for the seminar series provided a gathering place for individuals from private, public and non-governmental sectors and highlighted the need for a seismic shift in the mindsets for global sustainable development.
Realising the UN Sustainable Development Goals
The session opened with a minute of silence in respect for fallen hero and icon of the liberation struggle in South Africa, Ahmed Kathrada. The programme director, Professor Marvin Kambuwa then introduced the major objectives of the seminar series and urged representatives and delegates from partnering organisations and the corporate, public and civil society sectors to make concerted efforts to realise the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
Managing director of Regent Business School, Ahmed Shaikh said, “The future of Earth will depend on the sustainable efforts put in by a collective of all stakeholders today.” “Within this context, the Critical Conversations Seminar Series in Sustainability,” Shaikh said, “reflects Regent Business School’s commitment to help shape future business leaders who will be at the vanguard in encouraging the ‘triple bottom line’ approach towards sustainability.”
Held at the main auditorium of the new Institute of Entrepreneurship Building, the event drew a record 150 delegates from across Durban’s socio-economic spectrum.
Councillor, Fawzia Peer, the deputy mayor of eThekwini Municipality delivered a stirring keynote address on ‘Responsive and Responsible Leadership in Sustainability’. She reminded those present that the leaders from the corporate sector had a responsibility to assist both government and civil society in achieving a sustainable planet, a notion that proved to be one of the seminar series’ motifs.
Indeed, said Dr Mahmoud Youssef-Baker, the chairperson of Iqraa Trust, an economist by profession and a former leader of an international banking organisation, the issue of corporate social responsibility has to be given the prominence it rightfully deserves. For too long the ‘profit bottom line’ dominated the narrative of business. In order to become responsible, leaders from the corporate sector had to play their part in sustainability. Representatives from Nedbank and Indoni, a non-governmental organisation also passionately supported the need for sustainability.
All the participants condemned those denying the effects of climate change.
Considering the welfare of generations to come
The programme director then handed the floor over to Fred Kockott who was assigned the position of moderator for the session. Kockott informed the audience that he arranged for short video clips to be shown, one of which was narrated by actor Morgan Freeman and was titled, “Our Future”. The other, “Business can play a Profitable Role in Combating Climate Change”, was narrated by Andrew Winston.
However, prior to the screening of the videos, Kockott, in a presentation that encapsulated the spirit and intention of the conference, challenged the audience to think about the welfare of generations to come, quoting 87-year-old Native American, Oren Lyons: “In our way of life, in our government, with every decision we make, we always keep in mind the seventh generation to come. It’s our job to see that the people coming ahead, the generations still unborn, have a world no worse than ours – and hopefully better. When we walk upon Mother Earth, we always plant our feet carefully because we know the faces of our future generations are looking up at us from beneath the ground. We never forget them.”
Oren Lyons is a leading human rights and environmental activist, and author of numerous books.
Immediately after the showing of the video clips, the moderator engaged with the audience in meaningful banter. The session then came to a close after a vote of thanks was passed by Professor Anis Karodia who also reminded the participants that, “A shared view of where we are going will make it easier to overcome incumbency issues.”
“It will also enable us to work with government on transition pathways to achieve sustainability.”
GSMA Report Reveals The Gender Gap In Mobile Internet Use Is Shrinking, Despite The COVID-19 Pandemic
GSMA Report: An estimated 112 million more women started using mobile internet last year across low- and middle-income countries, despite the onset of COVID-19, according to the fourth annual GSMA Mobile Gender Gap Report published today.
Nevertheless, 234 million fewer women than men access mobile internet. Moreover, the underlying gender gap in mobile ownership persists and is proving difficult to close.
Affordability, lack of literacy and digital skills, and lower awareness of mobile internet are critical and common barriers for women. Structural inequalities in society and discriminative social norms also remain a challenge. Even when women have the same levels of education, income, literacy, and employment as men, they are still less likely to own a mobile phone or use mobile internet.
The report further revealed that a record number of women in South Asia now use mobile internet services, helping shrink the gender gap to 15% from 19% last year in low- and middle-income countries.
The gains in South Asia, which had the most significant gender gap in 2019 with women 50% less likely than men to use mobile internet, masked the stagnation in other regions such as Sub-Saharan Africa. Women in both regions now face a similar gender gap in mobile internet use – 37% in Sub-Saharan Africa and 36% in South Asia.
Women were more likely than men to access the internet exclusively via mobile in almost all markets surveyed. In Kenya, for example, 63% of male internet users said they only used the internet via a mobile device compared to 79% of females. This reliance by women on mobile demonstrates the disproportionate benefit of increasing their access.
“If women are to become equal citizens in a more digital, post-COVID world, closing the mobile gender gap has never been more critical,” said Mats Granryd, Director General, of the GSMA. “I urge policymakers, the private sector and the international community to take note of the important findings laid out in the Mobile Gender Gap Report because only concerted action and collaboration will enable women and their families to reap the full benefits of connectivity.”
The GSMA introduced the Connected Women Commitment Initiative in 2016 to catalyse action to close the mobile gender gap. Mobile operators continued to make commitments during 2020, with 40 mobile operators across Africa, Asia and Latin America making formal commitments to accelerate digital and financial inclusion for women since 2016. These operators have already reached more than 40 million additional women with mobile internet or mobile money services.
The GSMA’s Mobile Gender Gap Report 2021 is available at: https://www.gsma.com/r/gender-gap/
Further information on the Connected Women Commitment Initiative can be found at: https://www.gsma.com/mobilefordevelopment/connected-women/the-commitment/
Sahara Foundation Launches Sahara Regenerator Technical Program (STRP) To Combat Climate Change, Boost Employment
Sahara Foundation, the corporate citizenship vehicle of energy conglomerate, Sahara Group, has launched its inaugural Sahara Regenerator Technical Program (STRP) to promote capacity building among youths in Edo, Lagos and Rivers in Nigeria.
STRP will give beneficiaries a platform to develop technical skills in the installation and maintenance of meter and solar systems to enhance energy access, combat climate change and promote economic development in Nigeria.
With unemployment rate standing at 33.3% as of Q4 2020 and anticipated to hit 35% this year, experts say Nigeria needs to provide ample entrepreneurial opportunities for its teeming youth population.
Targeted at 120 youths with informal/minimal education, the project is also expected to help empower beneficiaries with resources to build sustainable businesses and ultimately become employers of labour.
Sahara Foundation will partner with leading African academy, the Energy Training Centre (ETC) and the Renewable Energy Association of Nigeria (REAN) to implement STRP.
According to Pearl Uzokwe, Director, Governance and Sustainability, Sahara Group, “the regenerator program comes at a crucial time where a gap exists in the technical skills needed to implement efforts aimed at providing clean energy through solar and bridging Nigeria’s significant metering gap. We are delighted at the opportunity to mould the next group of entrepreneurs in the power sector in line with Sahara Group’s vision to promote green energy and environmental sustainability.”
In 2020, Sahara Foundation revised its focus areas to two key pillars for all interventions going forward: Access to Energy and Promoting Sustainable Environments in alignment with our Group’s core vision.
Participants will develop competencies in the installation of single and three phase meters in residential and small commercial premises. The Solar PV Installation Technician program will train individuals to provide excellent service for residential and small commercial solar installations.
According to ETC’s Managing Director, Ibiene Okeleke, “ETC is excited to partner with Sahara Foundation in building capacity in their communities through these two programmes. The project will drive inclusive growth, poverty reduction through job creation and support the global energy transition mandate to provide cleaner forms of energy and aggressively reduce carbon emissions. We are proud to be associated with Sahara Foundation on this mission.”
Lande Abudu, REAN’s Executive Secretary stated that “having long recognised the importance of capacity building towards achieving universal access to energy, it is fitting that we combine efforts to enhance skills development in Nigeria. At REAN, we recognise the importance of collaborations and partnerships to reach shared goals. We are excited to work with Sahara Foundation and look forward to the positive outcomes that will certainly result from the programme.”
Applications for STRP will be open from June 11, 2021, to June 25, 2021 and can be submitted online or picked up and submitted at Sahara Group’s offices in the designated states. Interested participants can also visit www.ujanahub.com/strp and Sahara Foundation’s social media handle @iamsaharafdn for more information.
NASME Women Celebrates International Women’s Day 2021 with Empowered Women Event
L-R Mrs Victoria Oluwasanya – immediate past Vice Chairman of NASME Lagos, Mr. Solomon Aderoju – immediate past Chairman NASME Lagos, Otunba (Mrs) Gbemi Oduntan – National Women Coordinator NASME, Sir. Prince Degun Agboade – National President- NASME, Dr. Adams Adebayo – Chairman NASME Lagos, Mrs Wumi Oluwadare – 2nd Vice Chairman NASME Lagos. (Source: NASME/Dr. Jumoke Kassim)
Every March 8 is celebrated as International Women’s Day. An annual call to action for gender parity across the world. These actions range from marches and protests to advocacy and campaigns. This year’s International Women’s Day 2021 theme was tagged – “Women in Leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world” with the campaign theme #ChooseToChallenge. On the 12th March 2021, the National Association of Small & Medium Enterprises (NASME) marked this year’s international women’s day 2021 with an event organised and coordinated by the NASME Women (Lagos WING).
Due to the global pandemic (COVID-19), the event took place both physically and virtually in line with the government COVID-19 safety protocol. The physical event was held at the Adeyemi Bero Auditorium, Alausa Secretariat, Ikeja, Lagos while several guests joined virtually (Zoom) from different parts of the world. The NASME’s topic was on “Women, Family Law & Property Rights”.
Hajia Yinka Paramole-Shabi, the moderator for the day, commenced with an introduction of guests, speakers and how essential it was for NASME to have a women wing. The purpose of which is to have enviable women in business who can stand out among the male gender. She appreciated the support of the NASME president, a man that has been the backbone for the creation of the NASME Women Wing.
The Host and NASME Lagos Women Coordinator, Otunba (Mrs) Gbemi Oduntan in her opening speech explained why women should start challenging the status quo. She pointed out that women are not here to compete with their male counterpart. But are only demanding for a space on the table because it has been proven that what a man can do, a woman can do same, even much better. She believes 75% of what some women do these 3C’s jobs: Clearing, Cleaning and Chores that are not paid, because the world sees them as the weakest link. She gave some examples of women challenging the Status Quo in their respective industry. She mentioned Capt. Agbelusi who was one of the guests at their event in 2019 and her impact in the aviation industry. She concluded by saying “We need a gender balanced society” and left the audience with these three (3) parting words; Be prepared, Make sure your account is alright and Make the man know we are choosing to challenge.
NASME National President, Prince Degun Adeagbo in his speech extols the key roles women play at home, workplace and in the society at large. He said more women should choose to challenge the gender bias, inclusion and parity. He believes their aspirations can be achieved when women work together through different organisations as NASME and urged them to be a part of the community. Prince Degun admonished the Lagos women wing for their impact. On behalf of NASME, he appeals to the Government but at the federal and state to do everything possible to get more women involved in governance by lowering the bar. In future, he wants to see a woman become the President of NASME.
Mrs. Modupe Oyekunle is an industrialist and currently the National Coordinator of the Association of Nigerian Women Business Network (ANWBN). She shared her thoughts on why it is important to choose to challenge the status quo with emphasis on financial inclusion and diversity. Mrs. Oyekunle also spoke about the Passage of the bill on women national business agenda with 5 key focus areas; High rate of insecurity, Gender inequality, power and infrastructural facilities. She encouraged more women organization to work together in pursuit of the common set goals.
The Hon. Commissioner for Commerce, Industry & Cooperatives, Dr. Lola Akande was represented by Mrs. Oluwakemi Ogunmodede, a Director in the Ministry of commerce.
Mrs. Angela EMUWA, Chairman at Punch Nigeria Limited appreciated all the men supporting women who are challenging the status quo. She talked about the challenges and biases women face in the society. She emphasized on the role’s women play and why they should be given a space.
Dr. Adeyemi Agbelusi’s presentation was on the topic “Women, Family Law & Human Right” and how the law does not favour the women in our society. In terms of surrogacy, adoption, settlement after marriage divorce, Right & interest to property. He urged women to pay more attention to Cultural & financial intelligence before going into any kind of relationships.
The NASME event ended with an award ceremony where two of its members were awarded a plaque and some cash to support their business.
The first awardee is Mrs. Adesanya Modupe Olusola who lost everything in her piggery business during the (COVID-19) lockdown, as a result of Swine Flu that killed all her pigs. She said the award came to her as a surprise and the fund will put her back on her feet and appreciates platforms such as the NASME that provides women with so many empowerment opportunities. According to her, one way women can choose to challenge is by challenging their children to do great things. She advises women in a male-dominated industry with this saying, “Whatever needs to be done needs to be done well.”
Mrs. Mitana Blessing Matthew, the second awardee is the co-Founder of Authentic Natural products (African cosmetic brands), a company she co-founded with her late husband. She appreciated the support from NASME and promised the fund will be used to boost her business.
The NASME International Women’s Day event is a true indication of women supporting women and we hope to see more collaborations and not competition among women in business in Africa.
NASME is the Nigerian Association of Small and Medium Entrepreneurs and owners of small businesses across all sectors of the economy, creating business opportunities as well as providing solutions to individual member’s challenges to ensure the success of every business venture in Nigeria. Their vision is to be the voice of Nigeria Entrepreneurs advocating for conducive environment while partnering with MSME promoters to ensure the emergence of large pool of viable technologically empowered MSMEs. NASME promotes the empowerment of Nigeria’s MSMEs as a means of achieving sustainable employment generation, economic growth and development in the country.
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More Picture from the event
L-R: Mrs. Esther Ebeh, Ms. Oyelola Fadaini, Yeye Dupe Dada, Mrs. Matilda Taiwo & Ms. Yinka
Watch the full event here on YouTube NASME IWD2021 EVENT