In line with the vision of the Oyo State government to partner with the private sector to boost the economy of the state, a commercial bank, Sterling Bank PLC has expressed its readiness to help develop the productivity of the locally-made Aso Ofi weaving industry in the state.
This was disclosed during a stakeholders’ meeting held between the Oyo State government, Sterling bank Executives and representatives of Aso Oke Weavers and Marketers Association, Iseyin on Monday.
The meeting was facilitated by the Special Adviser to the Governor on Culture and Tourism, Hon. Akeem Ademola Ige was aimed at how the state government can participate and benefit from the N10billion Tourism Development Fund set aside by Sterling Bank to develop Tourism Centres in Nigeria with a target in the Aso Ofi weaving industry in Oyo State.
Speaking at the meeting, the Branch Manager of the Iwo Road branch of the bank, Mr Gboyega Owojuyigbe explained that as part of the corporate responsibilities of the bank to create employment and job opportunities, it set aside N10billion as Tourism Development Fund to help grow the Tourism potential in Nigeria which is already being enjoyed in Ekiti, Lagos, Osun and Ogun states.
Mr Gboyega Owojuyigbe added that the bank was willing to partner with Oyo State in empowering the Iseyin traditional industry by granting a loan to members of the association with little or no interest without collateral so as to increase their productivity and boost the domestic tourism industry in the State.
“According to him, Sterling Bank has done it in Lagos, Osun and Ekiti and we are happy that Oyo State has shown interest to also benefit from the scheme. Oyo State will even be better because of its uniqueness in tourism and its Pacesetter status.”
“Our aim is to improve the standard of living of the traders in Aso oke business by giving them a loan to boost their economy without any collateral as it is being practised in some advanced countries. Once they access the loan it will be easier for them to produce the Aso Ofi fabrics in large quantities and this will go a long way in promoting the culture and tourism in the State,” he submitted.
In his remark, Hon. Akeem Ademola Ige disclosed that the government of Engr Seyi Makinde accords great priority to the empowerment and security of the people in the State that was why it has shown interest in partnering with Sterling Bank so that its citizens can access and benefit from the 10 billion naira Tourism Development Fund set aside by the bank.
Hon Ige disclosed that the meeting which happened to be the first physical meeting between the bank and the Oyo state government after series of virtual meeting previously held hinted that many weavers will benefit from the scheme once the arrangement has been perfected between the government and the bank on how the beneficiaries can access the fund.
Also speaking in the same vein, Professor M.A. Babatunde, Economic Adviser to the Governor expressed delight over the initiative by the Sterling bank which he said was in line with Governor Seyi Makinde’s commitment to assist various groups, associations, traders, artisans, market men and women through loans and grants which in the long run will have a tremendous impact in the economy of the State and Nigeria as a whole.
He assured the management of the bank that the beneficiaries will make judicious use of the loan once it is granted since the government is involved.
The representatives of the Iseyin Weavers and Marketers Association, Mr Ganiyu Afeez, Public Relations Officer; Mr Wahab Fatai, Chief Whip and Mr Adelodun Alade, Financial Secretary all thanked the Oyo State Governor, Engr Seyi Makinde for the opportunity his administration has provided for their industry to benefit from Sterling bank’s development trust fund to empower and expand their local product.
They promised their full support to ensure his re-election in 2023 as payback for considering the welfare of members of their association his utmost priority.
The meeting also had in attendance the Economic Adviser to the Governor, Professor M.A. Babatunde and Rev Idowu Ogedengbe Executive Assistant Administration to the Oyo State Governor and Oyo State Focal Person on Human Capital Development as part of the delegation that represented the government.
Other Sterling Bank management at the meeting included Mr Ayodeji Adelabu, Micro Banking department; Mr Victor Daunsi, Manager Secretariat branch; Mr Sobowale Oludare and Mrs Oluremi Popoola.