Ecobank Strengthens  Creative Industry Financing

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Managing Director, Ecobank Nigeria, Patrick Akinwuntan

In line with the directive of the Central Bank of Nigeria that commercial banks should provide funding for the players in Nigeria’s creative industry, Ecobank Nigeria Limited has taken the bull by the horn, elevating businesses in the sector through funding and provision of cutting-edge financial service platforms, writes Bamidele Famoofo

The reason why Ecobank would support the creative industry in Nigeria is to project everything good about Nigeria, as it believes that the industry is best positioned to reinvent the dreams of the biggest economy and most populous black nation on earth.

Matching its words with action, the bank, a subsidiary of Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (ETI), a Pan-African banking group, has entered into productive relationships with a couple of players in the creative industry in Nigeria in recent times.

Ecobank’s collaboration with Terra Kulture, was one of the many partnerships, which is hoped to boost contribution of the creative industry in Nigeria to economic growth.

EcobankPay, the lifestyle digital payments and collections service of Ecobank Nigeria signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Terra- Kulture to formalise a relationship that has been described as a hope booster for the industry.

Chief Executive Officer, Terra Kulture, Mrs. Bolanle Austin-Peters, said the partnership with Ecobank Nigeria was delightsome as the cultural brand has suffered setback hitherto due to lack of corporate sponsorship since inception.

“Ecobank coming to support us is a big deal. It’s huge because the art community in Nigeria is more or less begging corporate Nigeria to support us. Now we have an institution that supports us. We hope that the relationship will be symbiotic. We are willing to ensure that the Ecobank brand is projected positively,” the visibly excited Austin-Peters disclosed.

According to Austen-Peters, Terra Kulture has raised hundreds of production houses. “Most of the under-30s you see in movies and theatres today started from here because we opened our space to them. This facility receives over ten thousand audience during Christmas and Easter holidays.’’

The Managing Director of Ecobank Nigeria, Mr. Patrick Akinwuntan, said the relationship with Terra Kulture is an initiative that will support the promotion of Nigeria’s cultural heritage on the global stage.

“For us it’s not just about banking but also about the pride of the African. We know that unless we project ourselves, the world won’t project us. It is normal for us to look for great institutions like Bolanle Austen-Peters Productions promoting our culture with world-class standard. So when we had the opportunity of looking at what is being done here, it came naturally to us that we should work as partners to improve the quality of lifestyles of Nigerians. Our products interact with the lifestyle of Nigerians and we have picked EcobankPay as the flagship product for this collaboration,’’ he said.

CBN’s Directive

The CBN has earmarked N20 billion for disbursement in the first phase of the exercise with three to 10 years pay back plan and maximum of nine percent interest rate per annum.

The Fund, targeted at players in fashion, information technology, movie production, movie distribution, music and software engineering student loan, has the main objective of creating 10,000 jobs in the next five years.

Under the new initiative, a software engineering student can get a loan of up to N3 million, while those in the movie production business can access maximum loan of N30 million, with N500 million for movie distribution business.

The loan amounts cover rental/service fees for fashion and information technology business, training fees, equipment fees, and rental/service fees for music business.

“Interested applicants in the creative industry are hereby advised to submit applications to their banks for approval and disbursement,” the CBN said in an announcement on its website recently.

The maximum interest rate of 9 per cent per annum (all charges inclusive) is applicable to all loans, the statement said.

On the period for the repayment of the loan, CBN said, for Software Engineering Student Loan, it is a maximum of three years; Movie Production and Distribution: maximum of ten years; for Fashion, Information Technology (IT) and Music, it is a maximum of ten years.

Compliance

Ecobank said it was well positioned and prepared to participate actively in the Creative Industry Financing Initiative (CIFI) recently introduced by the CBN in collaboration with the Banker’s committee. CIFI was introduced to improve access to long-term low-cost financing for entrepreneurs and investors in the Nigerian creative and information technology (IT) sub-sector, as part of efforts to develop the economy.

According to Akinwuntan, Ecobank has in place structures to ensure seamless disbursement of the CBN -backed facility, urging customers of the Bank to avail themselves of the opportunity to grow their business. “CBN must be commended for this initiative. It would go a long way to stimulating activities in the creative and IT and related sub sectors.”

He argued that Ecobank had been a major player in the creative sector, citing the current business relationship with a renowned African culture promoter, Mrs. Bolanle Austen-Peters (BAP) productions on ‘Bling Lagosians’ film currently showing in various cinema houses across the country.

“Ecobank has been in the forefront in the promotion of creative industry. As a pan African Bank, we have a collective vision of promoting indigenous African plays to reinforce knowledge of history and also celebrate our history, culture and values. The Creative Industry Financing Initiative will further help to energize the sub sectors and we already have structure in place to ensure hitch-free disbursement of the fund to the target group,’’ he reiterated.

New Collaboration

Ecobankmobile *326# recently announced its partnership with the All Africa Music Awards (AFRIMA) 2019 slated for Lagos Nigeria from 20th through 23rd, November.

AFRIMA, Africa’s most glamorous music event, is an annual celebration of African talents from all regions of the continent.

Akinwuntan said it was one of the several initiatives by the Pan African Bank to boost tourism, culture and the entertainment industry in Africa. His words:  “As the Pan-African bank, Ecobank is proud to partner with Africa’s most renowned music awards, which is a symbol of our support to building the family and lifestyle of Africans. Ecobankmobile *326# is joining AFRIMA to ensure that the Lagos show is a success.”

He explained said Ecobankmobile *326#, Ecobankpay, Ecobankmobile App, Ecobankxpress Account are bringing easy, affordable and convenient financial services to the youth, entrepreneurs and businesses, both local and foreign which are expected at the events.

“Our products interact with the lifestyle of Africans.  Ecobankmobile *326# makes it easy to open an instant account, make transfers, pay Bill’s and buy airtime.

Our integrated Ecobankmobile App works seamlessly across all 33 countries where Ecobank operates in Africa; also, the EcobankPay offers customers a multi-channel payment experience that includes Mobile QR payment at merchant stores.

The channel has a distinct advantage of supporting the three main payment schemes, Masterpass, mVisa and mCash thereby broadening acceptability regardless of which bank a client makes payment from.  Merchant QR is set up via Facebook Messenger as well as USSD payment for feature phone users.

President and Executive Producer, AFRIMA, Mr. Mike Dada, disclosed that the AFRIMA-Ecobank partnership for the 6th All Africa Music Awards brings together deep skills in financial and culture industries strategy, product ideation, technology development and deployment and organizational change management to help support African communities for successful socio-economic transformations.

“The statistics for AFRIMA events engagement in past editions are staggering –237,500 creative works submitted for awards consideration in the last six years; 84 media partners across Africa and beyond; 11.6million social media engagement on AFRIMA and 43.1million hits on AFRIMA website annually where voting for the awards occurs.

“The sheer size of data we collate is amazing. It takes only a true visionary organisation to see the opportunities for greater market leveraging to generate industry leading products, solutions and technology platforms to drive far more business impact for their clients,’’ he noted.