Zenith Bank Boss, Jim Ovia, Calls For Expansion Of Funding Scheme For Creative Industry

The Founder and Chairman of Zenith Bank, Jim Ovia, at the weekend called for an expansion of the Creative Industry Financing Initiative (CIFI), created by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), to empower stakeholders in the creative industry.

Ovia who was one of the panelists that deliberated on the theme: ‘Promoting the Growth and Development of Enterprise and SMEs in the Lifestyle Economy,’ at the Zenith Lifestyle Fair in Lagos, said the creative industry was more than entertainment and fashion.

“Recently, CBN has been promoting the creative industry. It appears that the creative industry is being limited to movie-making, music and television. Creative industry in my opinion involves anything that is innovating.  Thus, the CIFI by the Central Bank should be expanded to include those who are doing creative innovation. That way, we will be empowering the millennial,” he added.

According to him Zenith Bank is exceptionally proud of the entrepreneurs that have worked with it in the past decade, despite the adversity it has faced during the years.

“Various entrepreneurs have gone through the lifestyle, adversity being one of them. We have been able to survive under various circumstances. If the roads are not good, we fix it; if we don’t have access to good water, we build our boreholes. All these leads to a maxim I live by: Build your own infrastructure. There’s no use complaining too many times; be part of the solution and stop complaining,” he told the teeming young audience gathered in the master class hall.

Moderated by filmmaker and EbonyLife TV founder, Mo Abudu, the session had in attendance the governors of Lagos and Abia states, Babajide Sanwo-Olu and Okezie Ikpeazu, respectively.

The two governors shared insights on their plans to support the creative industry, with Sanwo-Olu saying the goal is “not just  to make Lagos a destination but ensuring that everything made in Nigeria starts and ends in Lagos.”

He said there was an ongoing dialogue between the state, CBN and the Ministry of Information and Culture to make Lagos State a fashion and entertainment hub, adding that a proposed N50 billion investment will soon be officially announced.

“We are targeting the creative industry, which covers fashion, film and music because we understand that there is a huge population that wants to operate in that space. We want to provide a place where they can operate freely. “Moreover, the creative industry is the future of Nigeria. We are focusing on the whole gamut of that industry. That is where the teeming youths in Nigeria can be found. We are giving them seed funds that will enable them to thrive,” he stated.

The governor added that the Onikan Museum will be ready before the end of next year while the state is working with Linus Idahosa of Del York Creative Academy for skills development in filmmaking.

Ikpeazu also unfolded plans by his government to focus on making Aba, a manufacturing hub of shoes and garments.

He stated that his effort since he assumed office was to ensure the growth of artisans.

“They are currently installing automated machines that will enhance the manufacturing of Aba shoes,” he said.

He expressed confidence that by 2023, Aba shoemakers will be  major key players in the world.

The master class session marked one of the highlights of the second edition of Zenith Lifestyle Fair. The three-day event kicked off November 29 and came to a climactic end yesterday, December 1.

This year saw an increase in participation. Over 300 retailers had access to the fair where they displayed their wares to teeming shoppers.

The fair, which was held at Eko Energy City, Eko Atlantic, Victoria Island, Lagos, accommodated vendors from different segment of the lifestyle industry.

Ovia pointed out that it was one of the innovative ways the bank is empowering the millennial.

He described lifestyle as livelihood, stating that “Anything that the millennial survives on and are professionals in it is a lifestyle.”

The three-day event also witnessed fashion runways from renowned designers like Tom Ford, Mai Atafo, Ituen Basi and Chulaap as well as master classes from Nollywood thespians like Eucharia Anunobi. Music was not left out in the mix as each day ended with a musical performance from music stars such as 2Baba, Niniola, Tekno, among others.