In fulfilling its mission to empower and encourage artisans, traders and boost small scale businesses in the State, the Oyo State government in collaboration with Sterling Bank Plc have finalised arrangements to disburse loans to Oyo State Weavers’ and Marketers Association.
This development was communicated during the fourth interface meeting held by the Oyo State government with the representatives of the management of Sterling Bank Plc, and members of the Executives of Weavers’ and Marketers Association from Iseyin and Oyo town held at the conference room, office of the Head of Service, Secretariat, Ibadan yesterday.
The no-interest loan facility which was part of the Ten billion naira (N10 billion) provided by the Sterling Bank Plc tagged; Sterling Bank Tourism Development Fund Initiative was enabled by the office of Hon. Akeem Ademola Ige, Special Adviser to Oyo State Governor on Tourism and Culture, to make funds available to members of weavers and marketers association in the State to boost and expand their business activities.
Speaking at the meeting yesterday, Reverend Idowu Ogedengbe, the Executive Assistant to the Oyo State Governor on Administration and Human Capital, revealed that the Oyo State government is happy to enter into partnership with the Sterling Bank plc to facilitate a loan for members of the said association to create a financial platform where members can access fund to boost their business with no interest facilities.
According to him, “Oyo Weavers and Marketers Association is one of the cooperatives in the State that focuses on a product that we have a comparative advantage in. To that extent, if you want to build the economy of Oyo State and ensure that we leverage on a particular sector, we need to see what we can do to assist and support them.”
“So this partnership with Sterling Bank is to ensure that we fully maximize the potential that is inherent in the Aso Ofi industry and also support those that have been working within that industry over the years that have been struggling to build their enterprise. A major challenge they have been facing is that of funding and we as a State is desirous to expand the Oyo State economy. We want to see what we can do to bring in funders/ lenders that will be able to lend them money at a very reasonable cost, not something that will make them lose their sleep but will be able to leverage it with lending and also use it to build their enterprise.”
“That is what we are doing. We are bringing the two together; the producers of Aso ofi and Sterling Bank which have set aside a significant amount for that industry as a tourism industry because they see the prospect in Aso Ofi as something that could sell to the global economy. So we want to see how more people will be using the Aso ofi either as shoe, bag, wallets, caps, dresses and so on to promote it globally and we know that once we can do that it will affect our internally generated revenue as a State.”
Mr Shina Atilola, the Divisional Head, Retail and Consumer Banking, Sterling Bank Plc, in his speech pointed out that the soft loan scheme to weavers industry by Sterling Bank plc is to first, empower the weavers technically, and financially; two, to restructure the Aso Ofi as a business but not as a hobby; three, to give them financial education on how to save, expand and four, create marketing and brand for their product through the e-commercial platform of the bank.
Professor Musibaudeen Babatunde, Economic Adviser to the Governor, in his contribution stressed that with the partnership by the Sterling Bank and Oyo State government, it is believed that the weavers will expand and improve their brand, and will be able to sell more of their products as well as reducing rural/urban migration and more importantly, it will reduce insecurity, create employment/empowerment for the people for sustainable development in Oyo State.
Giving the vote of thanks, Special Assistant to the Governor on Community Relations, Hon. Olufemi Josiah appreciated the management of the bank for the trust they had in the Oyo State government which brought about the partnership.
He appreciated the vision of the Oyo State Governor, Engr Seyi Makinde at placing the economic base of Oyo State on a sustainable pedestal by identifying with low cadre industry like weavers which has so long been neglected by previous administrations.
Hon Akeem Ige, Special Adviser to the Governor on Tourism and Culture, said that the Governor Seyi Makinde led administration is keenly interested in promoting the tourism industry and one of the ways of achieving this is to empower the local business in tourism like weaving industry which happened to be one of the points of pride of the State and sell it to the global economy.
Hon. Akeem Ademola Ige was commended by Mrs Abiola Adelana, Tourism Business Manager, Sterling Bank plc for initiating the processes of releasing the funds to the Weavers industry in the State, stressing that the gesture would go a long way in expanding the production of Aso Oke within the shortest possible time.
The spokesperson for the Weavers from Iseyin and Oyo town, Mr Wahab Gafar Pakoto, Secretary Raheem Abimbola Waliu from Oyo appreciated the Oyo State government and Sterling Bank for the initiative.
Other members of the team from Sterling bank included Olufunke Usalo Business Executive, South West, Abiola Adelana, Tourism Business Manager, Cassandra Obioha Zonal Head, South West, Oluremi Popoola, Regional Manager, Sales, South West, Kelechi Kanu, Head, Fair Mall and Ayodeji Adelabu Head, Micro/Agency Banking, Sterling Bank.