(as prepared for delivery)
Good morning, ladies and gentlemen and honored guests. Please allow me to stand on existing protocols.
On behalf of the U.S. Embassy, I welcome this occasion to expand U.S. commercial presence in Nigeria for the mutual benefit of both our nations. Today, the launch of Curves Fitness Center in Abuja marks an opportunity to bolster a new fitness franchise industry in Nigeria and to promote women’s fitness and health. Following a successful commissioning at Lagos Center last July, the opening of the Abuja Curves Fitness Center begins a rollout of Curves fitness centers around the country. It is exciting to hear that the world’s largest fitness franchise plans to open an additional 200 centers in Nigeria in the next five years, creating 2,000 jobs for Nigerian women. This is the epitome of the U.S.-Nigeria partnership that benefits the Nigerian economy and extends quality services and innovative solutions for Nigerian citizens’ well-being.
Curves International’s achievement in reaching 7,000 outlets in 94 countries within a decade speaks volumes of its business success. While being a leader in Nigeria’s emerging fitness industry, Curves also opens doors for the creation of additional sectors, such as fitness nutrition, fitness apparel, and fitness equipment production and maintenance.
We all understand how important a healthy lifestyle and eating patterns are and how they can prevent chronic illnesses like type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease. By focusing on a small shift in our daily routines, what we eat and drink, and how we exercise, we recognize that we can manage living healthy lives and bring about lasting improvements in individual and population health.
Curves makes all of this possible for women. We not only commend Curves for providing the business tools that Nigerian women entrepreneurs can learn to experience success, but we also applaud Curves for its promotion of healthy lifestyles, its supportive community, and its encouragement to women. A century ago, most women in the world could not even vote. Today, more women enter the work force, contribute to their economies, and shape the course of the nation. What history tells us is that change is possible. While women will have to face other battles, we celebrate the achievements that women have made and continue to re-dedicate ourselves to tackling the challenges that remain. We should encourage every woman to chase their ambitions and climb as high as their hard work and skills can take them.
The opening of a fitness center like Curves creates an opportunity for women, fills a void, and adapts well to a multicultural setting. Women who might not otherwise use the gym can now take advantage of all the resources available to stay fit, healthy, and empowered in a supportive environment.
I would like to congratulate Curves Nigeria in establishing a successful business partnership. We are all excited to see many new industries launch in Nigeria to deliver the newest trends and turn our hopes into realities. All of you gathered here are celebrating new business expansions, successful partnerships, more jobs, and most importantly, wellness, morale, and health for all of Nigeria’s people.