Friday, April 16, 2021 / 1:00PM / Bukola Akinyele-Yisau for WebTV / Header Image Credit: EcoGraphics
An increase in women's participation in the Halal trade has the potential of deepening the market in Nigeria. Mrs. Sayarun Nessa, Founder Halal Commerce made this point in a conversation on the topic "Women in Trade and Commerce".
Speaking on why women need to participate in trade, she said women matter to trade and trade matters to women. This has to do with how women could access trade in a sustainable manner that would enhance their personal development and wellbeing.
She believed women should engage in trade noting that there has been a lack of access to funding, and a low level of participation, especially in the Halal supply chain and the export sector.
According to her, women are more focused on agriculture but due to inaccessibility to funds, environmental challenges, and government policies, they are constrained. She believed women need to get involved in business to be self-sufficient.
Speaking further she said women need to be supported in the areas of education and skills development, which would empower them to be financially stable and add value to the economy.
She decried the fact that women were absent in export trade because of a lack of access to funding and stressed the need for local governments to support women's empowerment in trade, which is why Islamic nations need to invest more in women.
Mrs. Nessa charged women to be involved in trade, develop their skills, which would empower them to support their families and transform their societies. She said countries like Canada were supporting gender inclusion in their economy, a trend Nigeria and other Asian countries should equally adopt.
According to her, there is a need to break the barrier of trade as a lot of women want to trade internationally but do not have proper skills and suffer poor access to markets.
She called transparency in the Halal industry and recommended the development of a robust Halal business education system, business management, and supply chain.
"Islamic communities should focus on how to teach women business, also academics should add the teaching of how Muslim women can run business to their curriculum, to teach women ethical business and how to bring them successfully into the Islamic economy," she said.
She advised policymakers, industry leaders, and stakeholders in Islamic finance to focus on educating and driving the advocacy on the way women could align their business with the Halal trade.
Looking at opportunities for improving women's participation in the Halal business, she said a lot needs to be done for women to improve and the Organization for Islamic Countries is making strides, but in terms of technology they are far behind. For instance, she noted that Blockchain as digital technology was shifting, and noted that there was a need to develop proper technology to transform businesses.
The Founder, Halal Commerce said there is Big Data, Cryptocurrency, Artificial Intelligence, amongst others and all these were technologies to be implemented.
She admitted that Islamic finance was lagging because of technology. She said Africa was behind other parts of the world because there was no support from the OIC, GCC Countries and no support from Asian countries. She urged the Muslim community and government to take cautious steps on Blockchain technology, as there were a lot of opportunities in Islamic finance but a lot of things need to be worked on to achieve it.
In respect of Islamic lifestyles for women who are moving with modern technology, according to Nessa since 2019 in Canada more millennials are shifting to the professional level but those selling Halal products as small businesses face gaps because there is no technology or platform to raise awareness of the brand compared to the traditional market place 'Amazon' which is the biggest player in the market. She said, there should be more transparency and accountability for small businesses for them to sell to the right market.
Looking at Business ideas for Nigerian Muslim women and how to go about it, she said Nigeria is mostly involved in Agricultural trade but technology is the new normal and Nigerian women need to shift into the E-commerce industry. To bring ideas and good product in Halal, there has to be good packaging, she said Nigeria would have to think of a 5-10 year plan and improve the application of financial technology to Halal trading.