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IWoMA enhances capacity of Women Miners with loans, grants 

From Charity Nwakaudu, Abuja
A minerals sector professional pressure group, the Initiative for Women Miners in Africa (IWoMA) has launched the Women Miners Grants and Loans Readiness Project to  enhance the capacity of Women Miners for grants and loans.
The Loans Readiness Project is not a loan scheme, but a project that aims to enhance the capacity of Women Miners for loans and grants.
IWoMA, whose core mandate is supporting and facilitating positive changes for women miners across Africa, has urged the social sector workers to increase their interest and efforts in improving the living standards and operational safety of women miners in rural mining communities.
An official statement issued by a representative of IWoMA, Dr Adeola Olajugbagbe, stated that the harsh conditions under which women miners work in communities demand more urgent measures, more proactive mitigation actions and greater collaboration among stakeholders.
Dr Adeola quoted IWoMA director and head of organisation, Dr Comfort Asokoro-Ogaji, as appealling to social workers to take an interest in the mining sector, particularly targeting women miners and children in their intervention efforts.
According to the statement, Asokoro Ogaji noted that a majority of these women will require soft loans to acquire minor mining equipment and safety gadgets, which will increase their profits and as well maintain safe working conditions.
“This is why IWoMA has launched our Grants and Loans Readiness Project for women NGOs and women owned artisanal mining (ASM) companies across the states.
“We are committed to this cause and will continue to encourage capacity building for women through our platforms and networks. Hopefully the miners should start qualifying for loans and grants through this project. We look forward to starting measuring the impacts of the project in the next few months,” she said.
It was gathered that IWoMA is set to work with local NGOs as an intermediary organisation committed to ensuring the application of Sustainable Development Goals 5 which aims to achieve gender equality and empower women and girls particularly in the solid minerals sector.
During the Grants Readiness event organised by IWoMA, a member of IWoMA, Faith Mutete, a gold and lithium woman miner from Zimbabwe, shared her experiences.
She said the market is now dominated by foreigners who purchase mineral commodities from her company before but no longer do so because they have established their own machinery and mines. Consequently, she faces the challenge of sourcing funding to boost her production to a level competitive enough to attract buyers in the competitive space with foreign companies. She said she needed to acquire essential equipment such as jaw crushers, gold shaking table and other minor equipment to boost her production as a local miner to compete effectively in the industry.
Noting that women miners are exposed to various hazards, Dr Adeola stated that they can be empowered through training to expand their scope and venture into broader opportunities such as equipment leasing, ownership and partnerships in mineral processing centres and other relevant value added services.

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