In an unexpected twist that could revolutionize Nigeria’s private sector, a new report reveals that improving access to quality childcare for parents could be the secret ingredient to enhancing productivity and reaping benefits for employees, children, and businesses. The report, titled “Investing in Childcare: A Game Changer for Businesses and the Nigerian Economy,” jointly published by IFC and the Nigerian Exchange (NGX), sheds light on the untapped potential of family-friendly workplace policies in Nigeria.

Surprisingly, the study finds that a mere 5 percent of private sector employers in Nigeria invest in childcare, despite 67 percent of working parents acknowledging that access to childcare significantly boosts their productivity. Unlocking this hidden potential by offering on-site or near-site childcare services or providing financial support for childcare could unlock a world of productivity gains for employers while improving the lives of employees and their children.

Projections indicate that by 2025, the demand for childcare services in Nigeria’s private sector is expected to surge by 10 percent. However, childcare providers currently face obstacles in scaling their operations to meet the growing demand. One major challenge is the lack of access to formal capital and investments, as highlighted by the study, with 76 percent of providers struggling to secure formal financing. This creates an exciting opportunity for partnerships and investments to bridge the market gaps and support the expansion of quality childcare services.

Temi Popoola, CEO of the Nigerian Exchange (NGX) Limited, emphasizes the critical role of accessible and affordable childcare in fostering a productive, engaged, and inclusive workforce. He urges stakeholders in the capital market and the broader private sector to collaborate and take action to improve workplace solutions for childcare, as the benefits extend beyond individual companies and positively impact the overall economy.

Dahlia Khalifa, IFC Director for Central Africa, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone, echoes this sentiment, stating that childcare and family-friendly work policies should not be overlooked in social and economic development. She emphasizes the value of expanding such policies in Nigeria to support both the workforce and the country’s economic growth.

The report, launched during the Africa CEO Forum in Abidjan, draws insights from the perspectives of 7,000 stakeholders, including employees, employers, and childcare providers. As Nigeria’s population continues to grow, the demand for childcare services is poised to rise rapidly. The research covers six commercial hubs in Nigeria, namely Enugu, FCT-Abuja, Kano, Lagos, Ogun, and Rivers.

Funded by the IFC-led Nigeria2Equal Initiative, a collaborative effort with the Nigerian Exchange (NGX) Limited to promote women’s participation in the private sector, the report paves the way for gender-smart solutions that aim to reduce gender gaps in leadership, employment, and entrepreneurship.

The revelation that accessible childcare could be a game-changer in Nigeria’s private sector productivity opens up a world of possibilities. By prioritizing the well-being of working parents and their children, businesses can unlock a productive workforce, contribute to economic growth, and create a more inclusive and thriving society.