The Bank of Industry (BoI), on Tuesday in Lagos launched N1billion for the fast-growing fashion industry in the country.
Mr Rasheed Olaoluwa, Managing Director of the bank, said the fund was to support Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), and added that Nigerian fashion designers were one of the most creative in the world, having trained in most of the best fashion schools across the globe.
He said the fund was an initiative under the Gender Unit of the bank, and also targeted toward women-owned businesses only. “There has been a lot of talk about SME funding, but with less actions. This is why BoI has decided to increase its funding initiatives to cluster creations.
“BoI has so far recognised 34 cluster creations nationwide to drive our funding initiatives. So, we are able to tailor each cluster based on its peculiarities. “We are excited about this fund because of the impact it is going to make in promoting job creation, especially among the youths because fashion business globally is worth about $1trillion.
“And with the growing population of over 170 million, increasing purchasing power of the middle class, it is obvious that fashion business is, and will be a money spinner for Nigeria’s economy in the next few years”, Olaoluwa said.
He decried the state of the textile industry, saying that it had not benefited enough from the African Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA), due to poor competitiveness. This, he contended, had forced fashion designers to rely heavily on the use of imported fabrics.
“It is a pity that in a last study I did on our ailing textile industry, Nigeria is like 20 years behind in global competitiveness. “This is because about 150 companies have shut down in the last 10 years.
“We are just ensuring that we provide support for the stakeholders and see how we can contribute our quota to the sector’s revival’’, he said.
Joseph said the criteria for the loan would be a five per cent deposit of the loan sum, two reputable guarantors, a bank guarantee, and most importantly, a business with a consistent cash flow, a referral from standard, relevant association would also be needed to facilitate the loans, and a maximum of five million naira only would be given out to individuals.
Mrs Funmi Ajila-Ladipo, President, Fashion Designers Association of Nigeria (FADAN), lauded BoI for the initiative. She said the loan would encourage more fashion entrepreneurs to expand their businesses, and urged the bank to provide training, build capacity and guidance for budding entrepreneurs in the industry “as funding is not the only challenge facing the industry.’’ She said there was a need for BoI to encourage the creation of more production hubs and vocational centres and not focus on the end products only.
Mrs Stella Awoh, representative of Yaba College of Technology Fashion School, appealed to BoI and the government to provide support for fashion interns and graduates to set up their businesses as the college churns out about 450 graduates annually, who mostly end up roaming the streets because they had no funds to establish businesses. (NAN)