By: Chinyere Ogidi
Until recently culture and tourism were not much closely associated with the Nigeria financial system. While the banks have shown support for many other segments of the economy over the years, they clearly steered clear of much to do with culture and tourism, even though that segment of the society had enormous potentials for growth and could become a strong platform for consumer engagement and vibrant corporate social responsibility activities.
Thankfully that is all changing, not on a large scale though, but the financial institution is now warming up to culture and tourism and recognizing its potential to appeal to the larger society. One of the many ways by which the financial system has shown support for the growth and development of culture is through their support for festivals and the tourism industry. Click To TweetFor example, the annual Calabar Carnival which is reckoned as one of Africa’s biggest street carnival draws sizeable support from the banking system. Over the years, the carnival has received major endorsement in the past from UBA bank, First Bank, and even GTB.
More, the annual Oju Oba festival, which is one of the biggest cultural events in Nigeria, has received a major endorsement from the FCMB bank. At the 2016 edition of the festival which is held in Ogun State, FCMB was solidly on the ground offering brand support as well as adding color and excitement to the event. Beginning with an imposing billboard, welcoming attendees to Ojude Oba 2016, to branding across the entire Ijebu-Ode town and the exclusive Ankara worn by the First City Monument Bank (FCMB) delegates, the Bank truly added color to the festival in a unique way.
FCMB has explained that it’s the continuous support of the Ojude Oba festival is borne out of its commitment to celebrate and preserve Nigeria’s cultural heritage, while also boosting the tourism sector, in line with the government’s ongoing drive to diversify the country’s economy.
The event, which attracted dignitaries from everywhere in Nigeria and the diaspora, was graced by the Ogun State Government, and his counterparts from other States, traditional rulers, former and present senators, and members of the House of Representatives in attendance.
The yearly festival, though steeped in religion, has risen above that to become a time for felicitating with friends and loved ones. The festival was said to have started when the first set of Muslim converts in Ijebu-Ode decided to pay homage to the Awujale two days after their first Eid-el Kabir in the town. This version has been contested by non-muslims and even Muslims. But the story has it that they had gone to the palace to visit the Awujale, present him with festival gifts, which included part of the ram they had slaughtered for the celebration and to pray with him. The Awujale was said to have been so pleased with the gesture of the Muslims that he had asked for an encore the following year. Thus, what was meant to be a one-off event turned out to be a recurring celebration.
In Nigeria today art is beginning to grow and it is being accorded more prominence, especially within the corporate sector. Beautify works of art are now being accorded more value and its owners getting better rewarded for their ingenuity. That in part is because of the support of the art community, which is an integral element of the culture and tourism universe, is beginning to get from the financial system in Nigeria. And one institution that has played a leading role in that aspect is GTB.
In fact, GTB’s commitment to art is so strong that the bank has made art one of its four pillars for CSR support. This romance between GTB and art is very obvious in all their branches and it’s obvious in the different art-related events they robustly and proudly support. The bank’s support for the art also understandably dovetails into fashion now food and drinks.
And in 2012, the leading bank in collaboration with Style House Files, a creative development agency, announced a partnership with Selfridges, UK, and the famous London fashion destination. The partnership was tagged “Guaranty Trust Bank presents Ndani – a Style House Files Initiative’.
Ndani represents the beauty of Africa and the innovative partnership entails the display of African fabrics and designs made by select fashion designers. Because of this alignment, Nigerian designers had the rare opportunity to exhibit at Selfridges on London’s Oxford Street in the UK between November 2012 and January 2013.
Participating labels include Lagos Fashion and Design Week (LFDW) 2012 Young Designer Of The Year Finalists, AGU and House of Silk, DOT Handbags, Eki Orleans, Ituen Basi, Jewel By Lisa, Lanre Da Silva Ajayi, Odio Mimonet, and Tiffany Amber.
This development is what snowballed into a major fashion event called GTB Fashion weekend, which is bankrolled by GTB and offers a huge platform for Nigeria fashion designers to showcase their ingenuity. Positioned as a sequel to the GTBank Food and Drink Weekend, the GTBank Fashion Weekend is part of the Bank’s initiative to strengthen small businesses in key economic sectors through non-profit consumer-focused fairs and capacity building initiatives that serve to boost their expertise, exposure, and business growth.
As a bank driven by innovation, GTBank is always on the lookout for some of the most exciting art related ideas, that it can support, and recently t came up with something called ART635, (art635.gallery), a Virtual Arts Gallery created to reignite interest in African art and drive the growth and development of the local art industry.
Art635 is a foremost online repository of African artworks and is set to serve as a leading platform for the promotion of indigenous artists across the continent. At the moment, most budding indigenous artists in Nigeria and across Africa have little or nowhere to showcase their works and make a substantial living from their works. The Gallery will significantly expand the exposure of these artists, provide an enabling platform for the marketing of their works, and serve as a much-needed motivation for the further development of their artistic skills and talents.
Of course, these kinds of support from the financial system have been a major driver of growth and enterprise in the culture and tourism sector. But stakeholders have reasoned that a lot still needs to be done in the area of funding to better position the industry by way of structure and organization. This is why the members of the Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN) is appealing to the Federal Government for the creation of a tourism bank to provide long term funds for long term investments in the industry.
Other stakeholders have also urged the FG to support the industry by way of creating tourism-friendly policies that will provide the needed framework for sustainable growth just like the Indian government has done with the Tourism Finance Corporation of India. The agency which was set up in 1948 is a specialized Institution to cater to provides financial assistance to enterprises, for setting up and/ or development of tourism-related activities, facilities, and services, which inter-alia include hotels, restaurants, holiday resorts, amusement parks, and complexes for entertainment, education, and sports, safari parks, rope-ways cultural centers, convention halls, all forms of the transport industry, air-taxis, travel and tour operating agencies, tourism emporia, sports facilities, etc.
Because of this initiative, the tourism industry in India has become one of the biggest in the world creating close to 40million and contributing, almost 9 percent of total employment. The sector is also responsible for 7 percent of India’s total GDP.
Nigeria can also replicate this success with strong government and institutional support and policies.