By Oludele Taiwo
The National Coordinator, Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Business Network, an arm of the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), Chinwe Owhorji, has affirmed that women entrepreneurs are key to ending malnutrition. She dropped this hint while speaking at the yearly members convening of SUN Business Network, with the theme, ‘The Business of Nutrition: Building Partnerships for Success’, a meeting that was attended by regional hub leads across five geopolitical zones in the country, as well as other members of the business network.
She said women were responsible for nutrition decisions in households; so it is important that they get their voice into the programmes. She stated that the barriers for women entrepreneurs are still high as they cannot access funding like their male counterparts, hence the need to ensure that both genders work together, drive inclusion and achieve their goal. Owhorji noted further that Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) have their different challenges confronting them, while for some, it is access to finance, market or developing the product itself, hence the rich network with people of experience and different levels of capacity, to leverage them to solve some of the identified challenges.
“With this event, we want to encourage partnerships, not just within SBN members, but with other organisations and individuals to drive this change. This is one of GAIN’s initiatives towards supporting the private sector in addressing malnutrition because we understand that businesses are an important vehicle to convene safe and nutritious food to households, especially those at the bottom of the pyramid. The Country Director, GAIN, Michael Ojo, said a recent survey conducted by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) Nigeria’s Multi-dimensional Poverty Index (MPI), revealed that 63 per cent of Nigeria’s 218 million populations are poor. He said the survey also showed that 67 million of over Nigeria’s 100 million children are multi-dimensionally poor with child engagement indicators, revealing that more than half of all children lack the intellectual stimulation that is critical to early childhood development.
Ojo stated that while nutrition indicators have moved from bad to worse, despite various investments and interventions by the government, development organisations, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and the private sector, the country’s over 39 million MSMEs should take the bold step towards improving nutrition by making smart nutrition commitments and that with the nation’s millions of aerial lands, diversification to agriculture should be taken more seriously, saying that he believes that Nigerians can grow enough food that can feed itself and the whole of Africa. The Head of Operations, GAIN, John Pilaku, said synergy is very important around what businesses do in tackling malnutrition, “If we all pull our resources together as nutrition-based businesses, we will achieve our aim of healthy diets. We have witnessed the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19), flooding and other vices that have affected businesses, we have created a programme called, ‘Keeping Food Working’, where businesses were supported.