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BoI advises fashion entrepreneurs to leverage $100bn trade opportunity

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The Bank of Industry (BoI) on Wednesday said it was positioning the fashion industry operators to leverage on opportunities offered by the $100 billion Africa Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA).

The Acting Managing Director, BoI, Mr Waheed Olagunju, disclosed this during a Master Class session for fashion industry operators in Lagos.

He said that the AGOA would boost development the nation’s non-oil sector. News Agency of Nigeria reports that the session was organised by BoI in partnership with the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment (FMITI).

According to him, the Master Class would sharpen operators’ skills and ensure that Nigerian entrepreneurs operating in the Cotton, Textile and Garment (CTG) value chain were competitive internationally.

Olagunju said that the CTG sector had potential that were yet to be exploited for economic growth.

“They should be able to produce standard products, not only for the Nigerian market, but for Europe and the U.S. markets.

“Under AGOA, we have a $100 billion business opportunity.

“African countries are exporting less than a billion, while a small country like Bangladesh last year did $5 billion export to the U.S. under AGOA and Nigeria is not even on the African radar at all,” he said.

NAN recalls that AGOA is a U.S. preferential trade programme established on May 18, 2000 to provide duty-free access for thousands of products from eligible sub-Saharan African countries.

The Act seeks to stimulate economic growth, encourage economic integration and facilitate sub-Saharan Africa’s integration into the global economy.

After completing its initial 15-year period of validity, the AGOA legislation was extended on June 29, 2015 by an additional 10 years.

Olagunju said that most fashion products in Nigeria were of international standards, but entrepreneurs lacked the prerequisite knowledge to exploit global markets.

He said that the bank invited Mercedes Gonzalez, an International Fashion Strategist and Managing Director, Global Purchasing Companies in New York to hone entrepreneurs’ skills.

“As a development finance institution, we do not only finance our customers, we also give them business support service to help them develop their businesses.

“Our entire fashion chain is in huge demand, but Nigerians do not know how to bridge that gap and that is why we brought Gonzalez here.

“Many of them, like she saw, are under-marketing and under-selling themselves and not fully exploiting their potentials.

“Gonzalez is out here today to sharpen the skills of our entrepreneurs, take them to the next level and make them globally competitive.

“This would go a long way in helping the country’s economic diversification, so that we can earn foreign exchange through the export of our products,” the BoI chief said.

He said that the session’s developmental impact would translate to job creation, import substitution and foreign exchange earnings for the economy.

The fashion strategist, Mercedes Gonzalez, said that Nigerian fashion entrepreneurs had to position themselves strategically to leverage on opportunities in an ever-changing and competitive global fashion industry.

“The future is not in competing in price and in mass production of junks, but in positioning yourself with your unique designs,” Gonzalez said.

Nan, Oluwafunke Ishola

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