Garment makers in Aba, the commercial hub of Abia State have appealed to the Bank of Industry (BOI) to ensure that industry operators’, especially those outside Lagos, benefit from the proposed “N1 billion Fashion Fund” targeted at small and medium enterprises.
The group on the aegis of the Association of Tailors and Fashion Designers (ATFAD), an umbrella body of tailors and fashion designers in Abia, observed that if well implemented that the fund, would boost activities in the sector, create jobs and increase the gross domestic product (GDP) of the country.
Onyebuchi Nwaigwe, president AFFAD, commended the BOI for initiating the programme, but expressed doubts over implementation, stressing that similar funds targeted at the MSMEs in the past, often does not get to them.
The N1 billion Fashion Fund for players at the micro-, small- and medium-scale levels according to Rasheed Olaoluwa, managing director/chief executive officer, BOI, is in fulfilment of the bank’s commitment to develop special funds and credit products to deepen penetration of and enhance support to specific SME clusters.
The BoI Chief Executive Officer, explained that many Nigerian fashion designers have received training in some of the best fashion schools in the world, and therefore have the intellect, talent, creativity, skills and drive to take Nigeria’s fashion industry to the next level on the global fashion stage.
He said the growth in Nigeria’s urban population, the macro-economic environment, increasing purchasing power of the emerging middle class and a strong appetite for consumer goods are positive factors in favour of a flourishing fashion cluster.
He explained that fashion provides an important opportunity to diversify Nigeria’s economy and create jobs, particularly among the youth, expressing confidence that the Fund will help to catalyse the fashion cluster, create millions of jobs and also generate foreign exchange earnings for businesses and economy.
He disclosed that the bank has identified 34 SME clusters nationwide through which it will drive its new SME financing paradigm.
“At the Bank of Industry, we have resolved to strategically approach the issue of SME financing using the cluster approach, which has been successfully implemented in many fast-growing economies in the world. India is a very good example, where hundreds of SME clusters have been identified and developed,” he explained.
He further revealed that in the months ahead, more funds and products would be designed and launched to support the various SME clusters already identified.