Sunlight: Nigeria’s Vanguard Of Women Empowerment

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Every March, talks of women’s empowerment and events celebrating their achievements have been a yearly event International Women’s Day has a theme for each year and this year is no different campaign, #Each for Equal, drawing attention to the difference that individuals, brands and organisations can make.

Businesses and brands are demonstrating that they are indeed making a difference in the lives of women through empowerment, whether it is on the ‘small things’ that matter or the big things that make all the difference.  Unilever’s Sunlight brand is one such. Since formal launch in Nigeria in 2009, its purpose has been to make life easier for people, with a focus on women empowerment. For instance, during last year’s International Women’s Day themed #BalanceforBetter, Sunlight was out to make the difference in the world on the Nigerian woman. The brand celebrated the day by surprising women at major bus parks across Nigeria, refunding their fares and bearing gifts in goody bags.

Its 2019 Mother’s Day #SunlightSHERO campaign remains one that many will reference for a long time. The campaign celebrated the resilience and strength of single mums in the society. It was aimed at breaking stereotypes around single motherhood and helping the community see that being a single mum can be as a result of multiple factors. Nigerians nominated single mothers, three of whom won much needed home makeovers.

Acting as a bridge between women and opportunities, Sunlight has been at the vanguard of empowering and encouraging women to be the best they can be at every stage of their lives. Last year for instance, Sunlight was active in this regard through its “Shakti” programme; a business-inclined women empowerment programme where Unilever products are provided for these women to start petty trading. These products serve as start-up capital for them to increase or start their trade and provide for their families.Impressively, over 3,000 women in the rural areas of Nigeria have benefitted from the Shakti Programme, with an earnings growth of more than 400%, and these women extending the support to other women in their network. Sunlight’s purpose and fight to empower women are practical and direct.

Sunlight also partners with organisations and individuals whose visions and aspirations towards the growth and development of women align with its own. In this vein, in April 2019, two Nigerian fashion designers, Chechi Arinze and Titi Belo benefitted from Sunlight’s initiative to support young female entrepreneurs. They both received the sum of two million Naira (NGN 2,000,000) each to grow their businesses. They were chosen for their passion to make impact in the lives of women and to empower others – both of which align with Sunlight’s mission. “This initiative will help so many women in fashion as we, in turn, will provide training to the women that are coming after us,” Belo said. Arinze added: “This fund will enable me to impact more women and businesses around me.”

Also, Sunlight collaborated with Style House Files (SHF), a fashion business development agency that primarily focuses on the advancement of the Nigerian and African fashion industry – and Lagos Fashion Week, through the Fashion Focus Fund. The collaboration with SHF entailed that Sunlight partnered two womenswear brands VATHISWA and ZURIZOLA run by Morenikeji Akinsola and Chibuzor Emordi to create ‘The Sunlight Collection.’ The Sunlight Collection is inspired by the Sunlight Woman,; a fun-loving optimist, who always sees the cup as half full.

Sunlight was the official co-sponsor of Style House File’s 2019 edition of the Fashion Focus Talks, a platform where industry experts are invited to educate young talents in the industry. The Talks held in 4 cities in Africa – Lagos, Abuja, Dakar, and Kigali. For Lagos, Sunlight invited Mai Atafo, a renowned Fashion Designer and Creative Director of Atafo to speak on ‘Beyond Creativity’, the official theme of this year’s talks. Mai Atafo’s area of focus was to educate young talents in the industry on how to excel beyond creativity.

Sunlight further connected with women through the stories of five notable Nigerian women who have made it their mission to empower other women. These women were Olabunmi Aboderin-Talabi, founding publisher of Clever Clogs Books;, Bolaji Ayinde-Sekoni, creative director ofNouva Couture; Ifeoma Okoye, founder of PaintedNails NG and ex-beauty Queen, BellaRose Okojie. Morning Show Host at City 105.1FM and Tech entrepreneur, and Nelly Agbogu, founder of Naija Brand Chick and Nellies Nigeria. These women shared how they are empowering women in their different careers and also, how their goals are closely aligned with Sunlight empowerment programmes. They wore the Sunlight collection created by Morenikeji (VATHISWA) and Chibuzor (Zurizola).

The entire initiative and focus on fashion by Sunlightis based on the insight that Sub-Saharan Africa’s fashion market is worth $31billion with Nigeria accounting for 15% of that at $4.7billion. Regardless of these numbers, an average Nigerian designer finds it difficult to get capital to start or scale-up due to the challenges that fashion entrepreneurs face, including being taken as seriously as other start-ups from other industries such as technology and agriculture.

Sunlight’s decision to get involved in Nigeria’s fashion industry couldn’t have come at a better time. The industry saw an influx of brilliant designers, especially women emerging annually. It is only expected that Sunlight’s continual involvement in empowering women through fashion will help to take them to the next phase of their careers and more importantly, increase their ability to impact and empower others.

Outside the world of fashion, Sunlight is also in partnership with Women in Management, Business and Public Service (WIMBIZ), a non-profit organization to offer the Sunlight Empowerment Grant to a deserving winner. Last year at the WIMBIZ 18th Annual Conference, TosinBamiro, a mother of 6-year old triplets was announced as the winner of the N1,000,000 Sunlight Empowerment Grant. In addition to the grant, Tosin, who has been running her family’s over 20-year old bread business (Uncle B’s Bakery) since her father passed in 2014 also received digital and safety trainings from Sunlight to apply towards the growth of her business.

Sunlight was launched more than a decade ago and the brand has grown to become one of the most loved laundry detergents in Nigeria. Its Detergent Spring Sensations (Sunlight Yellow) and Tropical Sensation (Sunlight Pink) offer consumers dual benefits of effective cleaning and delightful long-lasting fragrances, making the laundry occasion feel less like a chore. The Sunlight Dishwashing Liquid in both the Lemon (Yellow) and Regular (Green) variants offer consumers Fast Oil Stain Removal in 1 Wipe, freeing up more time from doing the dishes to what you love to do. The Sunlight Multipurpose Bars promises a mild and gentle effect on your favourite colours. Sunlight’s rapid growth in Nigeria is driven by Unilever’s culture of constant consumer-led, purposeful and sustainable innovations.

Sunlight is made from the stables of Unilever Nigeria Plc., located in Lagos, Nigeria. Unilever was incorporated as Lever Brothers (West Africa) Limited on the 11th of April, 1923 but the company actually started with the founder’s trading interests in Nigeria and West Africa since the 19th century. Unilever Nigeria Plc. started as a soap manufacturing company and is one of the oldest surviving manufacturing organizations in Nigeria.

Unilever Nigeria’s products cover Food brands such as Knorr, Lipton,Royco and Glen as well as Personal Care brands like Close Up, Lifebuoy, Lux, Vaseline, and Pepsodent and Home Care brands like OMO, Sunlight and Radiant.

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