The Bank of Industry has launched the N1 Billion Fashion Fund for Nigerian designers seeking funds for expansion at the micro, small and medium-scale levels. Rasheed Olaoluwa, managing director/chief executive officer, BoI, said the Fashion Fund is in fulfillment of the bank’s commitment to develop special funds and credit products to deepen penetration of and enhance support to specific SME clusters.
The Fashion Fund joins two other SME funds recently launched by the country’s development bank: the 5 Billion Cottage Agro Processing Fund and the 1 Billion Nolly Fund.
“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,” Olaoluwa said.
“In Nigeria, our own African prints, known as Ankara fabrics, have become very popular in the fashion world due to the ingenuity and industry of Nigerian designers such as Dakova, Frank Oshodi, Tiffany Amber and Deola Sagoe, among others. Amazing designs are now created using local fabrics and are featured in both local and international fashion shows,” he observed.
The BoI’s helmsman pointed out that many of Nigeria’s 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.
Funmi Ajila-Ladipo, national president, Fashion Designers Association of Nigeria (FADAN), said there is the need to create a production hub for the industry. “We have so many talented people all over Nigeria, not only in Lagos. We need to bring all these people together and give them opportunity. We want to stop consuming from other nations; we want to manufacture. We don’t want to buy those second-hand clothes. We don’t want to wear those rejects that they throw back at us,” Ajila-Ladipo further said.
On her part, Nike Ogunlesi, MD, Rough & Tumble, while supporting the call for a production hub, said designers need to focus on building brands that will outlive them. “This is an opportunity to create jobs. The timing is right, so let us focus on the technical skills to build the industry. We need to have technical schools, train people, and show the world that we know what we are doing,” Ogunlesi said.