The Bank of Industry, in line with its cluster-specific approach to SME financing, has launched a N1bn Fashion Fund for female SME operators in the fashion industry. The Fund, according to Mr. Rasheed Olaoluwa, Managing Director/CEO of the Bank, is the third in the series of special SME cluster-focused products that the Bank would be introducing, after the launch of the Cottage Agro Processing (CAP) Fund in 2014, and the launch of the BOI Nolly Fund earlier this year. Speaking at a briefing held at its Lagos Head Office to introduce the Fund, Mr. Olaoluwa pointed out that the Bank was particularly excited about the potentials of the Fund to impact significantly on the Nigerian fashion industry and the entire economy. He explained that BOI’s foray into the fashion industry through this Fund was in order to exploit the enormous opportunities the industry has to create jobs and generally grow the stature of the Nigerian fashion industry within the global fashion industry.
According to him, “We see an opportunity to support Nigeria’s leading fashion businesses, to increase their production volumes and quality, thereby making them more competitive in both the domestic and international markets. “Fashion provides an important opportunity to diversify Nigeria’s economy and create jobs, particularly among the youths. “We are therefore confident that the launch of this Fund will help to catalyse the fashion cluster, help in creating millions of jobs and also in generating foreign exchange earnings for the businesses and the country.” In her remarks at the event, the President of the Fashion Designers Association of Nigeria, Funmi Ladipo, while appreciating the bank for the gesture, sought additional support for the establishment of a production hub where factories could be made available for mass production of clothes.
She said, “With a production hub, our young graduates can have a centre where they can receive additional training and be readily employed. Apart from creating jobs and encouraging people to patronise made-in- Nigeria clothes, it will save us the problem of chasing workers all over the place.” In his response, the Managing Director committed to the establishment of a production hub, stating that the Bank would engage with the Association and other stakeholders in the industry to ensure that the hub was operational within a short period. The N1bn Fashion Fund is available to women who are into fashion business in all the 36 states of the federation. it has a tenor of three to five years, with a moratorium period of 12 months from the date of disbursement. The loan is priced competitively, having a single digit interest rate of just nine (9) percent.