The Bank of Industry (BoI) has commenced making funds available to leather manufacturers in Aba to improve their quality and productivity.This was the outcome of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between BoI-Investment and Trust Company (BoI-ITC), a subsidiary of the BoI, and DAI- Market Development in the Niger Delta to drive leather production in Nigeria.
In a statement, the Managing Director of BoI-ITC, Mrs Betsy Obaseki, said that the bank is granting artisans in finished leather goods at the cluster, access to N500, 000 working capital loan and N10 million for purchasing of equipment. Obaseki added that the cluster has the capacity to take Nigeria to a higher level of enterprise in terms of finished leather goods. She stated: “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,” she said.
Also speaking, the Intervention Manager, Dr. Abimbola Adeyinka, said the partnership was to address many issues, including access to finance that had impacted the degree of production, skill, quality and scale of the industry.“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.
The president, Leather Products Manufacturers Association of Abia State, Mazi Okechukwu Williams, noted: “With access to funds, 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.”
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