Story by Marc Eggers, Staff North Georgia's Newsroom
GAINESVILLE – Twenty-six women had traveled over 6,000 miles to share their vision for a business relationship between their nation, Nigeria, and the United States.
Dressed in traditional vibrant colors and eager to share their hopes, the doors of the John S. Burd Center on the campus of Brenau University opened and the delegates of the Nigerian Quintessential Business Women Association were welcomed in.
The NQBWA has nearly a million members in Nigeria and they want to take their various businesses to the next level by entering the U.S. marketplace.
NQBWA President Shimite Katung says that Atlanta is the perfect point of entry for their group’s female entrepreneurs.
“We want to do business starting in America; we are looking for strong business hubs. It is arguable to say that Atlanta can provide a strong business hub,” Katung said.
But Katung said that Nigerians, especially Nigerian women, view business ventures a bit differently than Americans.
“Business is like marriage to us,” Katung began to explain. “Before you take the bride or the groom you have to understand who they are, their likes and dislikes, what they want, so we can dress appropriately for our groom. This is why we are here.”
The NQBWA is spending five days with the International Women’s Think Tank of
Atlanta, under the watchful eye of President and CEO Brenda Morant, touring various sites in the metro area, looking for the best business opportunities.
Today they visited Brenau University, attracted by its Women’s College legacy, and hoping to gather suggestions and feedback as they explore the north Georgia economic-environment.
Nigeria is a nation of nearly 173-million residents with diverse people groups; people groups that don’t always live peaceably. That, however, is not the case with the NQBWA, according to Katung.
She explains that people will unite for a common cause and that enterprising women exemplify that reasoning. She points to the group with whom she is traveling: Moslems and Christians and women of warring tribes make up her entourage.
“We celebrate diversity in our group. We picked the Moslem woman to stay in the same room with the Christian woman; someone from a tribe that doesn’t get along to stay with one that gets along; and we’re all getting along,” she says with a big smile.
“For us to do this business there needs to be peace; there needs to be fellowship; there needs to be understanding.”
She then adds with a wink, “We’re going to do what was difficult for the men to do.”
Katung says that her group hopes to build a manufacturing plant somewhere in the area within the next 18-months, something she repeatedly calls a “win-win”…for Nigeria, for the US and for women everywhere.