SOJI AJIBOLA, Ibadan
Oyo State government in partnership with Sterling Bank Plc has concluded arrangements to disburse N10bn interest free loans to Oyo State Weavers’ and Marketers Association.
This was made known 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.
The interest free loan facility was facilitated by the office of the Special Adviser to Oyo State Governor on Tourism and Culture, Hon. Akeem Ademola Ige to make funds available to members of weavers and marketers association in the State with a view to boosting and expanding their business activities.
Speaking at the joint meeting held in Ibadan, the Executive Assistant to the Oyo State Governor on Administration and Human Capital, Reverend Idowu Ogedengbe disclosed that the Oyo State government was happy to enter into partnership with the Sterling Bank plc to facilitate loan for members of the said association so as to create a financial platforms where members can leverage to get 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 comparative advantage in. To that extent, if you really 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.”
He added, “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 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 has 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 really promote it globally and we know that once we are able to do that it will affect our internally generated revenue as a state.”
In his remark, the Divisional Head, Retail and Consumer Banking, Sterling Bank Plc, Mr Shina Atilola 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 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 e-commercial platform of the bank.
The Economic Adviser to the Governor, Professor Musibaudeen Babatunde 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.
In his 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 Oyo State government which brought about the partnership.
He lauded 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.