Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on Tuesday said his administration will collaborate with the United Nations in equipping more women to advance affirmative procurement for women-owned businesses in Lagos State.
Sanwo-Olu spoke while delivering a keynote address at a high-level policy dialogue programme organized by the Lagos State Public Procurement Agency in conjunction with UN Women with the theme “Advancing Affirmative procurement for women-owned /women-led businesses in Lagos State.”
The governor, who was represented at the event by the Commissioner for Finance, Yomi Oluyomi, said his administration was ready to support the collaboration with the United Nations Women to equip more women with the knowledge and skills required to navigate the procurement landscape successfully, especially through training, workshops and funding.
Sanwo-Olu stated: “We will put our full weight behind this collaboration with the United Nations Women to equip more women with the knowledge and skills required to navigate the procurement landscape successfully. Training programs and workshops will be a cornerstone of this effort.
“We will ensure that women entrepreneurs continue to enjoy the support of access to funding, especially through the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund, and we will continue to hold up our standard of accountability and transparency.”
Sanwo-Olu said affirmative procurement was of paramount importance because when women succeed in business, it not only enhances their own economic well-being but has a ripple effect, improving the financial stability of their families and the community at large.
According to the governor, supporting women-owned businesses is an investment in the prosperity of Lagos State, adding that the present administration would be unstinted in embracing diversity in procurement practices which undoubtedly would enrich the business landscape and also foster creativity, innovation, and the opportunity for different voices to be heard, leading to a more dynamic and vibrant economy.
“There is no gainsaying that Women are often drivers of sustainable practices and social responsibility. Therefore, encouraging women entrepreneurs will lead to environmentally responsible business models and a more resilient and ethical business environment.
“Our recognition of and support for women-owned and women-led businesses was not just because it is an ethical choice, but because we hold the vision of making Lagos State and its economy a force to be reckoned with. We will study, localize, and adhere to national and international mandates that call for gender equality in public procurement,” he said.
The Director-General of Lagos State Public Procurement Agency, Fatai Idowu Onafowote, said the event represented the climax of a relationship that began between the UN women and the Lagos State Public Procurement Agency in 2022 when the organisation indicated an interest in partnering with the Agency on women economic empowerment through affirmative procurement.
He said that since then, a series of sensitisation and training programmes had been organised for different categories of stakeholders by the Agency in collaboration with the UN Women.
According to Onafowote, Lagos State as a Centre of Excellence, the commercial and economic nerve centre of Nigeria and the West African sub–region, could not afford to keep women, particularly operators of Women–owned/Women–led businesses at the background in economic development.
“It is worthy to note that as desirable as affirmative procurement for Women–owned/Women–led businesses in the State is, the Lagos State Public Procurement Agency Law 2021 is gender neutral. We will ensure a level playing ground for all irrespective of gender, race and creed,” he said.
Speaker, Lagos State House of Assembly, Mudashiru Obasa, represented by the Chairman, House Committee on Procurement, Samuel Olufemi Apata, expressed readiness to support the initiative and ensure that women are not relegated to the background, just as they promised to back it up with the necessary legislation.