Funding Nigeria’s new oil
“Fashion is very important. It is life-enhancing and, like everything that gives pleasure, it is worth doing well.” – Vivienne Westwood
As humans, one of our basic needs is clothing which comes in all shapes, colours and sizes. Fashion dictates the outfits that are acceptable and expected per era, it therefore, plays a very important role in any society. The definition of fashion also varies from person to person, and from place to place. Fashion for some comes as trends in the latest wears, shoes, jewellery, and accessories.
Globally, the fashion industry is much broader and includes not only clothes, shoes and accessories, but the textiles and fabrics from which they are produced, as well as garment manufacturing, importing and exporting of all raw materials used in production, marketing, and promotion of finished products, wholesale distribution to wholesalers and resellers, retail to customers and branding.
The Nigerian fashion scene is diverse, and slowly developing compared to other parts of the world. Still, its growth is evident as more individuals and corporate bodies are participating, fashion designers are getting proper training and exposure, a structure is being put in place, and awareness about the viability of the industry is also increasing. In the last ten years, the fashion industry in Nigeria has witnessed a boom of sorts as there are more fashion designers, pattern makers, fashion illustrators, models, photographers, makeup artists, fashion and hair stylists, style editors and many others.
As a result of this, the fashion industry is steadily contributing to the Nigerian economy by creating jobs and improving the Nigerian brand both home and abroad through fashion showcases of local designs and fabrics and promotion of our creativity and culture.
According to the GDP Report of Q4, 2016 from the National Bureau of Statistics, Textile, Apparel, and Footwear under the manufacturing sector grew by 1.08% in Q4 2016 from -0.91% in Q3 2016 and 2.78% in Q4 2015. Major challenges hindering the growth of the fashion industry in Nigeria are majorly funding to increase production capacity, underutilised sectors within the industry like textile industry which lacks adequate raw materials for the production of local textiles and fabrics, lack of proper training and research to equip fashion designers and instructors to implement global standards in their processes and finished products which are exported. There are also regulatory challenges centred on the importation of low-quality fabrics and accessories, merchandising, inadequate regulatory bodies and laws, and unfavourable market conditions.
The fashion industry is a viable subset of the manufacturing sector that should be supported to harness its full potentials in driving the economy forward. The focus of the Bank of Industry (BoI) is in core sectors of the Nigerian economy that need intervention through the provision of innovative financing solutions that ensure growth, sustainability enhancement, and societal impact. The BoI develops and promotes women & youth empowerment programmes, environmentally friendly & sustainable projects and have fine-tuned organizational models that businesses can take advantage of to increase internal structure, better performance levels and become more profitable.
Impact of the BoI support is seen in various industries across Nigeria where tailor-made products are developed and implemented for several business undertakings thereby enhancing competitiveness in the marketplace. In agriculture, agro-processing, fashion and several other businesses that largely source for raw materials domestically, provision of technical and legal support is made available to develop local content and produce high-quality products that will thrive in international markets and generate significant export earnings.
In driving the fashion industry forward, a 1-billion-naira Fashion Fund aimed at supporting the fashion value chain, including but not limited to garments, shoes, handbags, and others was created. The fund is accessible to limited liability companies and enterprises promoted by women or with at least 50% shareholdings held by women and is deployed towards up-scaling businesses in the Nigerian Fashion Industry.
Bisola Adeniyi, a fashion designer and owner of today’s contemporary go-to brand, Lady Biba, on www.ladybiba.com, is a proud BoI loan recipient. “Fashion has always been what I loved from a really young age,” she gushes. “It’s not a passion I stumbled on. I daydreamed of styles and designs since I was a girl. I grew up with an aunt who went to fashion school and had her workshop in the penthouse of my house. I usually went there after school to play with fabrics, flip through magazines, and that’s how the love for fashion started.”
She added that she honed her craft as a self-taught fashion designer by teaching herself through the books she read, the magazines she looked through and the constant illustrations of styles she would create in her mind. Due to her big dreams of expansion and to deal with unprofessionalism in the industry, she had to seek funding which came through the Fashion Fund from BoI. She accessed the fund by submitting an application in January 2016 and got disbursement in November of the same year. Her patience and hard work paid off as some others started the application but pulled out mid-way due to its painstaking process.
“Nigeria has been dependent on oil and we all know how that has played out. Fashion is big all over the world and it is commendable that BoI has created a fund specifically for fashion. The fund was used to buy more raw materials and expand production. It’s a privilege to be an ambassador of the BoI fashion fund and I would recommend it to any designer out there hoping to grow their brand,” she added. Her advice to fashion designers who may be interested in the opportunity provided by the BoI Fashion Fund is to get their business in order, have a purpose for the funds, be extremely detailed and keep their business account(s) in order.
The Fashion Fund is an initiative of the Bank of Industry, developed to empower young, talented and passionate Nigerian fashion designers, to grow and expand their businesses.
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