Wigwe’s Lasting Imprint on Creative Industry

Stories by Vanessa Obioha

Tributes continue to pour in for the late Herbert Wigwe, Group CEO of Access Holdings Plc, who tragically passed away in a fatal air crash on February 9, 2024. Wigwe is fondly remembered for his significant contributions not only in the banking sector but also in various other industries.

One sector where he left an indelible mark is the creative industry. From music to films and arts, he steadfastly supported this sector, recognizing its potential to provide employment for youths and contribute to the nation’s GDP

Who could forget the Born in Africa Festival (BAFEST) spearheaded by Access Bank under his watch as the GMD/CEO of the financial institution? The vibrant festival encompassed different facets of the creative industry including fashion, arts, Nollywood, and music. Produced by Livespot360, it featured performances by Nigeria’s top music stars like Burna Boy, Flavour, Kizz Daniel, Davido, and Tiwa Savage, as well as renowned continental artists like Awilo Logomba and Sho Madjozi.

Wigwe’s influence extended to Nollywood, where he fervently supported the Africa International Film Festival (AFRIFF). The festival organisers, in a statement on Instagram following his passing, hailed him as a patron of the arts who recognized the profound impact of cinema in shaping “our collective narrative.”

They credited his generous contributions for the festival’s growth, enabling it to provide a platform for emerging filmmakers to “share their stories with the world, amplifying voices that might otherwise have gone unheard.”

Indeed, Wigwe was passionate about young creatives. His commitment to nurturing young talent was evident through initiatives like the Accelerate Film project, which offered mentorship programs for creatives and opportunities to showcase their films at AFRIFF.

In the visual arts space, Wigwe revolutionised art festivals in Nigeria through the Access Bank-sponsored Art X Art Fair, hailed as West Africa’s most prestigious art fair. He also lent his support to events like the Ake Book and Arts Festival, further cementing his legacy in the arts community.

Wigwe also advocated for prompt financing for the creative industry. Following the launch of the Creative Industry Financing Initiative (CIFI) by the federal government in 2019 to boost investment in the industry, Access Bank began offering loans with a maximum interest rate of 9 per cent per annum and a repayment period of 10 years. This initiative aimed to foster capacity building and generate employment opportunities in sectors such as fashion, information technology, movie production, movie distribution, music, and software engineering.

Wigwe’s impact on the creative industry is undeniable and will continue to resonate across the continent, even in death.

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