WEConnect International in Nigeria identifies, educates, registers, and certifies women's business enterprises that are at least 51% owned, managed, and controlled by one or more women. WEConnect International is the only non-profit connecting women-owned businesses with multi-national corporate purchasing organizations outside of the United States.

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News and Events

Welcome New Executive Director of WEConnect International in Nigeria

Ladipo croppedShade Ladipo is the Executive Director for WEConnect International in Nigeria, a travel and media entrepreneur, and social activist. 

At the age of 25, Shade founded Avienti Limited — a Destination Management Company with three offices in Nigeria. She has worked with the United Nations Volunteers Nigeria and several advertising agencies where she specialized in event management, account management, and client services and strategy. 

Shade is one of the founding members of the Lagos Global Shapers and represents Nigeria at World Economic Forum events. She is also the Co-Founder of Enough Is Enough Nigeria, now one of the most vocal non-partisan organizations credited to being a major part of the platforms for young people in deciding Nigeria’s path of change.

Shade has been recognized by several platforms for her work as a change agent and businesswoman. She has been nominated at the Future Awards Africa Awards, chosen as 101 Young Acheivers at the African Business Forum in Accra Ghana in 2008, and selected as a Goldman Sachs fellow.

Shade is also a public speaker and regularly appears on radio programs and at live events about everything she is passionate about including leading a successful business in Nigeria.


Apply for VV GROW Fellowship by January 31, 2016

Are you a woman business owner of a small or medium enterprise? Do you want to grow your business and positively impact your community? Are you operating in Sub Saharan Africa? Learn more about the Vital Voices GROW Fellowship and how to apply for the 2016-2017 fellowship here:!

WEConnect International to Offer Nigerian Women Business Owners Access to New Markets

(10 APRIL 2015 – ABUJA) On 4-5 May 2015, some 200 women business owners and representatives from the public and private sectors will gather in Lagos, for the first WEConnect International Exhibition & Matchmaker (WIEM) in Nigeria. For two days, female entrepreneurs will learn about the benefits of being certified as a women's business enterprise (WBE). At the same time, buyers will learn about the innovative solutions WBEs can offer and the competitive advantage they provide for their brands.

“WEConnect International has such a unique value proposition for women-owned businesses, because it is one of the only organizations committed to providing them with access to markets by facilitating connections with key procurement decision makers globally,” said Comfort Sakoma, Executive Director of WEConnect International in Nigeria. “This event brings together Nigeria's most goal-oriented, fit for purpose, ready to compete women-owned businesses and Nigeria's most progressive multinational corporations who understand the connection between input and output and know that setting up business to compete in the future requires that they are open to building a more diverse and inclusive supply chain.”

Event News

"International Exhibition: Women Urged to Think Big"
"Accenture Tasks Women Entrepreneurs with Ideas"
"Most Confident Women Women Entrepreneurs Are from Sub-Saharan Africa"

 Previous WEConnect International Events in Nigeria

May 4-5, 2015


Women Vendor Exhibition Forum 2015: Business- to- Business meetings between certified women business owners and domestic and international vendors.

May 11-15, 2015


WEConnect Academy: Women Business Owners will be provided with the information needed to build a high performing business.

May 18-22, 2015


WEConnect Academy: Women Business Owners will be provided with the information needed to build a high performing business.

May 25-29, 2015

Port Harcourt

WEConnect Academy: Women Business Owners will be provided with the information needed to build a high performing business.

WEConnect International 5 Year Report: ETHNIKOS Testimonial

weconnect 2015 annual reportWritten by : Ajuma – Founder ‘ETHNIKOS One Million For One Million Kids in Need Project’

The 5 Year report of WEConnect International was released recently. It’s amazing to see how this organization has achieved measurable impact in a very short period of 5 years, since its inception. WEConnect International is now present in 17 countries and has certified 611 Women Business Enterprises’ as being qualified to do business with multinational organizations, whilst 3,902 self-registered women businesses are also a part of the eNetwork. WEConnect has conducted 143 market access trainings and had an attendance of 6,643 women attending in different parts of the world. As at March, 2015 the organization boasts of over 60 corporate members.

ETHNIKOS toys happens’ to be part of the impact story and our testimonial is shared on page 11 of the organization’s 5 Year report. Click here to read the "2015: 5 Years Building Inclusive Growth" report!

At the first WEConnect International Exhibition and Matchmaker event in Nigeria which took place on 4-5 May,2015 in Lagos , ETHNIKOS was matched with Procter & Gamble, NBC(Coca –Cola), Etisalat, Dangote, Exxon Mobil , Cadbury, Access Bank, Next Cash and Carry, Hilton . The matchmaker sessions created the opportunity to have one on one sessions with procurement managers from these companies. The networking was great and the beauty of it all is that it happened all under one roof. We are now following up on our proposals.

The icing on the cake was that we had Elizabeth Vazquez the founder of this great organization join us and spur us on to greater heights.

I’m happy to be a WEConnection!

 Video: Hightlights and Testimonials from the 2014 "Meet the Buyer" Country Tour

Nigeria EM Nwokejiobi(December 21, 2014) WEConnect International in Nigeria has compiled highlights and testimonials from its 2014 "Meet the Buyer" events supported by ExxonMobil. The goal of the events was to bridge the gap between women entrepreneurs and the oil and gas industry and ultimately increase the number of WEConnect International certified women vendors registered with ExxonMobil. Some moments from the video :

"When a woman has information, a woman has self-confidence. When you gather them together like this, and you teach them a train them how they can key into programs to improve their businesses, to actually believe that they can operate at a certain level, you are doing so much." - Onyenka Onwenu, Director General, National Center for Women Development

"There couldn't have been a better way to learn to step up your business to an optimum level." - Uduak Winifred, Woman Business Owner

"I did not know that regular people can actually do business with multi-nationals." - Funlola Tinubu, Woman Business Owner

Watch the video

WEConnect Academy in Nigeria 2014 

The WEConnect Academy is an online learning tool put together by our corporate member, Walmart. Due to accessibility issues, our Executive Director Nigeria, Comfort Sakoma, transformed it into an intensive, week long executive development program for WEConnect International’s self- registered and certified businesses. The program focused primarily on increasing the competitive advantage and robustness of the participant's business. Participants formed a learning community which continues to provide a source of support, expertise, opportunities, and strategic alliances long after the program completion. Participants were awarded certificates at the end of the program and were celebrated as Africa's first WEConnect Academy class. Facilitators included experts in International Law, Human Resources, Financial Services, and Business Strategy Execution.

See more photos on Facebook and watch our video wrap-up!

WEConnect International in Nigeria Holds Final 2014 "Meet the Buyer" Event

WEConnect International in Nigeria hosted 50 women entrepreneurs in its fourth and final Meet the Buyer event in collaboration with ExxonMobil on October 30, 2014, in Abuja at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel. It was a very emotional event as we wrapped what has been an extraordinary two months of touring Nigeria with our corporate member ExxonMobil to teach women how to grow their businesses by winning large corporate contracts. We look forward to repeating this event with other multinational corporations.

See more photos on Facebook!

Women Business Owners "Meet the Buyer" in Abuja

WEConnect International in Nigeria hosted 60 women entrepreneurs in its third Meet the Buyer event in collaboration with ExxonMobil on October 27, 2014, in Abuja at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel. This event presented another opportunity for WEConnect Certified Women Business Enterprises and current or potential suppliers to ExxonMobil to understand how to interact and do business with multinational companies and especially oil and gas companies like ExxonMobil.

See more photos on Facebook!

FLON SMWomen & Girls Abuja Summit 2014 

The Women & Girls Summit  on October 13-14, 2014 in Abuja, Nigeria, was a pan-African event where participants connected with other gender advocates, heard inspirational stories, and had a unique opportunity to lend their voices to a global issue.

The two-daygathering of select women leaders was convened by the  "Office of the First Lady" in collaboration with NCWD and Friends Africa. This year, Comfort Sakoma, Executive Director of WEConnect International in Nigeria, was among the impressive list of speakers. More than 1000 women and girls were in attendance for what was a high level dialogue on current issues affecting women and girls in Africa.

WEConnect International is a proud partner of the Women & Girls Abuja Summit 2014.

4WebLagosSept2014Women Business Owners "Meet the Buyer" 

Building on the success of its first Meet the Buyer event in Akwa Ibom State, WEConnect International in Nigeria hosted 120 women entrepreneurs in its second Meet the Buyer event in collaboration with ExxonMobil on September 30, 2014, in Lagos State at the Eko Hotels & Suites. This event presented another opportunity for WEConnect Certified Women Business Enterprises and current or potential suppliers to ExxonMobil to understand how to interact and do business with multinational companies and especially oil and gas companies like ExxonMobil.

See more photos on Facebook! 

On September 19, 2014, WEConnect International Nigeria hosted 60 women entrepreneurs in its first "Meet the Buyer" event in collaboration with corporate member ExxonMobil in Akwa Ibom State, at Villa Marina Hotels Eket. This event presented an opportunity for WEConnect Certified Women Business Enterprises and current or potential suppliers to ExxonMobil to understand how to interact and do business with Multinational Companies, especially oil and gas companies like ExxonMobil.

See more photos on Facebook!

From Minority Business Entrepreneur Magazine ( )  

"WEConnect International in Nigeria: Connecting Women to Global Opportunities," Comfort Sakoma, September 2014

With its unique ecosystem for the development of small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), diversity of resources, economic structures and political systems, no other region has such vast opportunities for growth as Africa. The continent is widely regarded as the next frontier for the transformative growth that has been seen in Asia during the past two decades...

Read more.

WEConnect International in Nigeria Hosts Business Planning Workshop

On August 19, 2014, WEConnect International in Nigeria hosted a Business Planning Workshop for self-registered and certified women business owners. The session began with an introduction to WEConnect International certification where the attendees learned about our success stories in other markets as well as the value of our global network. Next, Ololade Raji from Accenture delivered a training on business innovation. Mrs. Jennifer Ntia a self-registered WBE shared her 15 year business journey with the participants highlighting the struggles, sacrifices, and victories that ultimately led to her multi-million dollar business, Price Superstores. The session ended with the WEConnect Academy training on "Aligning and Executing your Business Strategy," which was delivered by Comfort Sakoma. Nearly 30 women participated in the training.

Visit Facebook to view more photos from the event.

5V6A2887WEConnect International in Nigeria Reaches 85 New Women Business Owners

On July 17, 2014, Access Bank hosted WEConnect International in Nigeria at their Head Quarters on Victoria Island, Lagos, where we had the opportunity to introduce 85 women business owners to WEConnect International's global certification program. Presentations were made by WEConnect alongside our corporate members -- Access Bank, Accenture, IBM, and ExxonMobil. Attendees were blown away by the myriad of opportunities available to certified women business owners, including our intimate "Meet the Buyer" events where they can present their companies directly to the most influential purchasing managers in Africa.

Visit Facebook for photos from the event.

WEConnect International in Nigeria Leads Delegation of Young Entrepreneurs

The Public Affairs and Economic Sections of the United States Embassy in Abuja invited WEConnect International in Nigeria to a discussion with U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Jay Williams on August 5, 2014. This was an opportunity to engage with one another and a senior U.S. government official on strengthening U.S.-Africa business partnerships and the importance of investing in the next generation of African leaders. The roundtable was held on the occasion of the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit and took place on the same day that the U.S.-Africa Business Forum was held in Washington, DC, where President Goodluck Jonathan, President Barack Obama, and 50 other African heads of state met with senior American business officials to discuss similar topics. During the event at the U.S. Embassy in Abuja, Executive Director of WEConnect International in Nigeria Comfort Sakoma discussed the important role WEConnect International is playing in opening access to markets worldwide. 


WEConnect International–Accenture Business Process Innovation Training

On July 2, 2014, Accenture welcomed 30 women business owners from WEConnect International into their Lagos headquarters for the WEConnect International – Accenture Business Process Innovation Training. Our guest speakers included Executives from Accenture who discussed the importance of innovation in business and how to build a corporate culture that embraces innovation; the co- founder of Jumia Nigeria who talked about the technicalities of running an e-commerce business and the future of the industry in Nigeria and Africa as a whole; an Executive from ExxonMobil who taught our participants how to minimize their total system costs (operation costs) so that they can better compete in bidding processes with Chinese, Indian, and American/European firms; an Executive from IBM who talked to the participants about the importance of gathering and using data; and the Executive Director WEConnect International in Nigeria who taught the women how to Align and Execute their Business Strategies.


WEConnect International in Nigeria Hosts Training Event

Nigeria EY May 2014-1SM2

Over 100 Nigerian women entrepreneurs gathered in Lagos on May 22nd to learn about WEConnect International’s global certification program and other tools to grow their businesses. The Introduction to Global Certification training program was organized by WEConnect International in collaboration with EY Nigeria. 

“It is very encouraging to see Nigerian women entrepreneurs so eager to take advantage of the opportunities we offer,” said Comfort Avunze Sakoma, Director WEConnect International Nigeria. “We are also very thankful for the support of our corporate members.”

Attendees received a workshop training by the Enterprise Development Centre on Decision Making Strategies for Business Growth and also participated in two roundtables. The first one, “Are You Bankable?” was hosted by Access Bank. The second one, “What Corporate Firms Expect from Vendors,” was hosted by EY Nigeria. 

WEConnect International participates in WEF Africa event in Nigeria 


On May 8, 2014, WEConnect International in collaboration with the World Bank, the African Development Bank, the International Finance Corporation, UN Women, the Ministry of Finance, WIMBIZ, the Nigerian Women's Trust Fund, Access Bank and P&G, hosted a World Economic Forum Africa (“WEF Africa”) side event on Gender in Abuja, Nigeria. 

Following the WEF Africa’s theme “Forging Inclusive Growth, Creating Jobs” and to further showcase the critical role women play in job creation and economic growth, the event presented an overview of the impact resulting from inclusive growth, the business case for investments in women, case studies on corporations that have seen the commercial benefits of including women suppliers in their value chains, and stories from successful women entrepreneurs who shared the challenges they face and the opportunities they have identified for economic growth across Africa. 

Gathering together thought leaders from the public and private sectors, the WEF Africa side event provided a unique opportunity to demonstrate the business case for investing in women in Africa, especially in women entrepreneurs generally and women in agribusiness in particular. WEF Africa also presented a platform to explore and discuss recommendations to be endorsed and implemented by governments and private sector entities operating in Africa for inclusion of women in the region’s growth strategy.

WEConnect International launches in Nigeria

WEConnect International reached a new milestone in Africa with the launch of its Nigeria initiative on January 25th 2014 in Abuja with the generous support of the ExxonMobil Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation.

“We are delighted to get to work with women business owners in Nigeria who want to grow their companies and sell to multinational corporations,” said Elizabeth Vazquez, CEO and Co-Founder of WEConnect International.

“We are also grateful for the extraordinary support we have already received from Nigerian business associations, government agencies, multilaterals, the media, and of course the outstanding participation of Nigerian women business owners, who came from around the country to network and share their vision for success,” she added.

The Nigeria initiative will be led by Executive Director Comfort Avunze Sakoma. Sakoma is also the CEO and Editor in Chief of Poize Magazine, a consumer publication that targets women entrepreneurs.

The day-long launch program featured keynote addresses and panel discussions by a number of prominent speakers, including Marie-Francoise Marie-Nelly, head of the World Bank Nigeria, and businesswoman and philanthropist Princess Fifi Ejindu.

Panelists representing the Nigerian Bottling Co., Access Bank, Fidelity Bank and the International Finance Corporation discussed Nigerian corporate commitment to sourcing and financing women-owned businesses and the unique assets that women-owned businesses can bring to the value chain.

 Nigeria joins South Africa as the second market in Africa where WEConnect has established a presence. Additionally, the organization operates in Asia, South Asia, North America, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean.    

Contact Information

Ladipo cropped







Shade Ladipo

Executive Director, WEConnect International in Nigeria

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