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Entrepreneurs should keep their eyes on their goals despite the current economic challenges-Hansatu Adegbite,ED,WIMBiZ

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Hansatu Adegbite  is the Executive Director of the Women in Management, Business and Public Service (WIMBiZ).In this interview at the sidelines of the Tax Summit recently held in Abuja, the management expert spoke on how to invest in Women and Accelerate progress in alignment with the theme of the 2024 International Women’s Day. She also shared her views with 120edgenews.com on why Nigerian women entrepreneurs should keep their eyes on their goals despite the current economic challenges in the country, amongst other imperatives. Excerpts:

By Victoria Onehi

It’s still the International Women’s Month, even though the day has passed, how do you think we can ‘Count Her In: Invest in Women and Accelerate progress’ as the theme of this year connotes for women in different fields of endeavors?

Hansatu: Well, I think the theme of the International Womens Day 2024, is inspiring inclusion. First of all, I think we must inspire more women and men to see and understand inclusion. When we say inclusion,we are talking about diversity, equity as a necessary tool for national development. We must not view it as a threat but we should view it as a significant contribution to us.

The second thing I want to mention is that it’s time for us to come together to collaborate on how we need to move our communities and our states and our nation forward through this collective journey of inclusivity.

In WIMBiZ, what steps you are taking in that direction?

Hansatu: WIMBiZ has existed now for 23 years and it was created by our Founders to empower and inspire women to attain leadership positions. One of the problems WIMBiZ wanted to solve was to increase the number of women in leadership positions, whether it’s in business, corporate space or public sector.  Now, having said that, I want to mention that WIMBiZ has over the past 23 years done it through advocacy, through programmes that empower, through programmes that inspire women and through programmes that connect women and help them to network. So there have been so many advocacy initiatives both in public and private sector. There has been a lot of initiatives around building the capacities of entrepreneurs and mentoring. We have been mentoring women for several years and helping them to be inspired by the kind of Speakers that we have brought who have done great things in their fields. Also, through networking and building their capacities.

How long have you been the Executive Director of WIMBiZ?

Hansatu: I have been the Executive Director for 7 years, but have been a member of WIMBiZ from inception.

As a member of the Presidential Committee on Fiscal policy and Tax reforms, what is it that you are bringing to the table?

Hansatu: Obviously, my being on that committee is to represent the voices of women and to ensure gender inclusivity. At the committee, we are looking holistically at the different policies, the constitution, looking at the practices, looking at the challenges, looking at the past  work that has been done, looking at economic competitiveness and understanding when tax reform is needed. And so what I am bringing to that committee is the gender lens to whatever we are doing. Just to ensure that we are not left behind in the area of gender and inclusion-this entails people with disabilities as well.

Will some of the issues discussed the recent Tax Summit organised by Society of Women in Taxation (SWIT) be part of what you bring to the knowledge of the committee?

Hansatu: Ironically, some of the issues raised at the Tax Summit is what we have discussed at the Committee. Bear in mind that the President of the Chartered Institute of Taxation (CITN) is also a member of that Presidential Committee, and some members of SWIT like Prof Teju Somonri, is on that committee. So there are collective voices to influence some of these reforms.

So, is there hope that women will see some relieve in the tax reforms being proposed at that Presidential committee?

Hansatu: The truth is that when it comes to the issues of committees, we can do the work, we can make all the recommendations but the recommendations are obviously going back to Presidency. I can assure you that the best of talents when it comes to taxation in Nigeria are on that committee. The Chairman of that committee Mr Taiwo Oyedele, did a fantastic job of selecting the right people. Everybody that is an authority in Tax Matters at all levels to the students in the Tax Club in secondary school, he put us together.  Having said that, it is one thing to do the work, implementation is another thing. Implementation does not lie with us it lies with the Federal Government through the Office of the President.  So, it will take political willpower and the support of National Assembly, the State Government, the FIRS and core stakeholders to implement. We need that collective efforts of even the private sector and the general public to implement. It’s with that political power we can achieve implementation.

What word of hope do you have for the female entrepreneur in Nigeria as the world celebrate International Womens Day/ Month?

Hansatu: I want to say that the terrain is extremely tough now and it can be discouraging for the Women in Business or entrepreneurs. The taxes are high, the cost of raw material is high, cost of importation is high, the forex challenges, obviously, inflation is on the rise, the cost of transportation, fuelling is on the high side and so if you are looking around, the situation is very discouraging. But one of the things I have realised is when you are running a race, you must keep your eyes on the finish line. So set and define for yourselves what your finish line is and ensure that you run towards it despite the challenges. Get help when you need to get help, cut cost when you need to cut cost. Check what has been done before because there is no season of difficulty that has not been in existence in the past, so , what I will recommend is keep pushing, keep learning, keep believing, keep striving but just make sure that you don’t stop.

What do you think the government can do to help?

Hansatu: The government has to be more sensitive to the plight of the people. There is already what we call trust deficit, meaning that people don’t even trust the government. The government need to build the trust of the people.  The only way that can be done is by rescuing the nation from the current circumstances especially economically. It’s not something that can be done in four years, but then we can begin to put processes in place to ensure that we achieve it.

How do you unwind?

Hansatu: I am somebody who loves to teach, I enjoy imparting knowledge and wisdom on people, so speaking on issues that I am passionate helps me a lot. Outside that, I like to relax and spend time with friends and family. I enjoy working with a lot of Networks like my alumni. So, every now and then, we meet and exhale and relax. And then must times, I like to be indoors and relax in my room especially at the weekends.  

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