Fidelity Bank, NEPC, others partner on AGOA’s export scheme
The importance knowledge and readiness to take advantage of opportunities has been described as imperative, especially in boosting the capacity of small businesses in mobilising scarce foreign exchange.
Fidelity Bank Plc, in collaboration with the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) and Ghanaian based West African Trade and Investment (WATI) HUB in an African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) workshop for leather and garment cluster businesses in the South Eastern part of the country made this known.
The event was part of efforts aimed at boosting exports in Nigeria, just as the bank has been in the vanguard of providing capacity building initiatives for customers and the business community across the country.
The two-day event with the theme: ‘Taking the Advantage of Export Opportunities to the United States under AGOA’ at the weekend, in Aba, Abia State, featured mini-exhibition by the manufacturers of the leather and garment goods.
The General Manager, Managed SMEs Division, Fidelity Bank, Ken Opara, who represented the Chief Executive Officer, Nnamdi Okonkwo, said it was the desire of the bank to give the entrepreneurs the needed exposure to the local and international market.
“It’s important to key into the incentive scheme of AGOA – an incentive scheme that the American government put in place to support export of African products into American market.
“AGOA guarantees duty-free exports, but our people are not fully aware of the compliance levels needed for them to take advantage these incentives” he stated.He also explained that Fidelity Bank wants manufacturers in the Aba cluster to generate the needed foreign exchange of their own and maintained that Aba, being one of the commercial nerve centres in the country, is pivotal to the diversification of the Nigerian economy to non-oil sectors.
“We are using this platform to provide them all that they need to know to secure loans to be able to drive businesses in order to participate in the AGOA scheme. As a bank, we are with them all the way from capacity building to access to funding, including equipment finance where necessary” he stated.
The WATI HUB representative, Emmanuel Udonko, said that his organisation provides technical assistant, capacity building and marketing linkage to West African sub-region business concerns.
According to the apparel specialist, his mission to Aba was to sensitise them on their readiness to export their products to America through AGOA platform and to enable them access the market, leveraging the workshop as a good platform to start from.
But a Senior AGOA Specialist of USAID/WATI based in Ghana, said the advantages and benefits of AGOA for Nigerian manufacturers are enormous and it is important to educate them on how the be part of the scheme.
Another speaker, Chief Funso Abiri, an AGOA expert and Consultant with the NEPC, who was thrilled by the high level of interest from the Aba leather and apparels manufacturers, thanked Fidelity Bank for being very handy in providing advice and financial assistance to the manufacturers.
The National Secretary of Association Leather and Allied Industrialist of Nigerian (ALAIN), the an umbrella body for the finished goods leather manufacturers in Nigeria, Ken Anyanwu, commended the organisers of the workshop and expressed his members readiness to be part of the AGOA scheme.
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