The Bank of Industry (BoI) has partnered DAI- Market Development in the Niger Delta (MADE) and the Leather Product Manufacturers, to drive leather production in Nigeria.
Indeed, the Development Finance Institution (DFI) noted that the leather industry has the capacity to drive economic growth as well as creating job opportunities for Nigeria’s teeming unemployed youths
Betsy Obaseki, the Managing Director, BoI, Investment and Trust Company (ITC) explained that as a DFI, its mandate is to stimulate and drive industrial development across the country, pointing out that it had identified the Aba cluster as a potential hub to drive leather production in Nigeria.
Obaseki during the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signing ceremony between DAI- Market Development in the Niger Delta (MADE) and BoI-Investment and Trust Company (ITC), a subsidiary of the BoI, added that the cluster has the capacity to take Nigeria to a higher level of enterprise in terms of finished leather goods.
According to her, the partnership would see artisans in finished leather goods get access to N500, 000 working capital and N10 million for purchasing equipment to improve their quality and productivity.
In her words: “We are happy to partner them by giving them all the financial advisory and funding support and because of the existing potential that this cluster, it is going to grow and improve the quality of the products. They are already doing 20,000 pairs of shoe daily and if we support them, we expect they can do a lot more to satisfy the Nigerian market and even export to Europe. They are already exporting to West African countries and we are very confident that Nigeria tends to benefit enormously from this partnership.
“If we improve on their quality and productivity, there will be no need to spend our hard earned foreign exchange on quality products we can produce here. We are developing capacity here and also improving the quality of locally made goods and this is sure to happen with the Aba cluster,” he said.
Also, the Intervention Manager, MADE Dr. Abimbola Adeyinka, said the partnership was to address issues bothering on access to finance that had impacted the degree of production, skill, quality and scale of the industry, saying that BOI is key to transforming the finished leather industry in Nigeria.
“This is a very significant achievement and it would definitely support the businesses with the small holders in the Aba leather cluster and definitely improve the export gains for the federal government,” he said.
He pointed out that MADE has been working with the Aba leather cluster to stimulate private sector and enterprise growth for small scale enterprises within the cluster whose businesses is about finished leather production.
The president, Leather Products Manufacturers Association of Abia State, Mazi Okechukwu Williams, explained that the partnership is a milestone event critical for industrial development in Nigeria, pointing out that the DFI has been magnanimous enough to go into a collaboration that would impact positively on the finished leather goods in Abia State.
“The bank is going to provide capacity development, access to finance to purchase equipment and working capital for the industry. With this partnership, the finished leather products in Nigeria will be greatly impacted positively, because for a very long time, we have been having issues with finishing and we thought the best thing to do is to get advanced technology into the system. This partnership will help us improve our productivity to boost the industry,” he added.
He commended MADE and BOI for the collaboration, saying that developing the cluster is a step in the right direction for industrial development.
“The finished leather goods industry is a very huge market, because the products are marketable products capable of attracting the much needed foreign exchange for Nigeria,” he averred.