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Bank ready to increase N1B Fashion Fund – Olagunju

Olagunju said BoI was committed to the development of the industry as part of efforts to ensure the diversification of Nigerian economy.

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The Acting Chief Executive of the Bank, Waheed Olagunju disclosed this at the Master Class Session with the Mercedes Gonzalez, a USA based international Fashion Strategy expert, organised for Nigerian fashion designers on Friday in Abuja.

Olagunju said that the bank was committed to the development of the industry as part of efforts to ensure the diversification of Nigerian economy.

“We have a one billion fashion fund which we are willing to increase as demand also increases.

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“We say let start with one billion naira but if we receive requests with potential and viable proposals we are ready to finance it with other development banks including Africa Development Bank (AfDB).

“Because the AfDB also has a package for Africans fashion designers, and we are also collaborating with AfDB in these respect,’’ he said.

The BoI fashion design fund launched in 2015 provides fashion business an opportunity to create jobs and add values to the Nigerian economy, while promoting unique fashion sense in the country.

The fund has nine per cent interest rate with six to 12 months moratorium period, as well as three to five years loan tenure.

Olagunju said the aim of the training for the fashion designers was to enhance the capacity of Nigerian entrepreneurs at various segment of cotton, textile and apparel value chain.

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He added that the training was also designed to sharpen the skills of Nigerian designers and make them competitive, to produce high quality apparels that will be attractive to both domestic and international markets.

The BoI boss said the training with Gonzalez, who is also the Managing Director of Global Purchasing Companies, would help to connect Nigerian designers to the international market, especially to the US, thereby increase the country’s foreign exchange.

“We are also talking about generating foreign exchange. There is a huge diaspora population outside.

“In fact non-African and non-Nigerians like Nigerian outfits, they crave for it but the Nigerians entrepreneurs are not able to fill that gap, they are not yet playing on the international markets the way they should do.

“For example, the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOWA) in US, presents 100 billion dollar market opportunity for apparels.

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“African countries since 2015 apparels worth about a billion dollar while a country like Ballades exported apparels to the tune of 5 billion dollars, Nigeria did not appear on that rather at all yet we have Nigerians who can produce these apparels,’’ Olagunju said.

The Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Hajiya Aisha Abubakar, said that the Federal government was working to address the challenges confronting the development of the fashion design industry.

Abubakar said that the government was working to tackle the challenges of electricity, gas, providing necessary infrastructure that would boost the industry.

“For me what is missing for Nigeria fashion design was fashion label.

“We need to do to our fashion group what has happened to our music and our food. No Nigerian leaves the country for two days without looking for Nigerian food.

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“Every where you go, even Madagascar, they will play Nigeria Music. And that is what I want to do for the fashion industry because we have what it takes.

“Our designers are dedicated, they pay attention to details and come out with unique designs and they are very proud to wear them but we need to take them out of the shores of Nigeria to the international market,’’ she said.

The minister said that the government was also working how to get accessories locally as well partnering with some stakeholders including the Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON).

Mr Kwajaffa Hamma, The Director-General of the Nigeria textile Manufacturer Association, stressed the need for continuity in government programme towards the development of the industry.

“This kind of initiative needed to be enshrined in the law so that there will be continuity,’’ Hamma said.

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Hamam also urged fashion designers in the country to take advantage of the Federal Government’s intervention in the industry.

“Government has set up a committee to look at our in-competitiveness, to look at how competitive we can be with our contemporary all over the world.’’

He also stressed the need for the association to see how it can benefit from AGOWA which he said had been extended by 10 years.

“AGOWA was lunched over 10 years ago but nobody in Nigeria has benefited from it.

“If you go to South-Africa Madagascar, Botswana, East Africa, they have benefited a lot, their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has gone up because of AGOWA and they are making profit,’’ he said.

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