Ekiti State tourism sector has major funding boost as two hundred and ninety-two Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in the State have benefited from the Sterling Bank Tourism Development Fund.
It can be recalled that a recent report by Sterling Bank showed how the tech-savvy bank disbursed over N100bn digital loans and about N5bn digital credits through its digital credit solution online instant lending platforms called Specta and PaywithSpecta.
In Ekiti State, the beneficiaries were part of the 2000 entrepreneurs listed for empowerment through financing, capacity development programmes and digital marketing support for the accelerated development of the tourism value chain in different communities.
Addressing the beneficiaries in Ado Ekiti, the Commissioner for Culture, Arts and Tourism, Ekiti State, Professor Rasaki Ojo Bakare, said that his Ministry was established in 2019 to harness Ekiti’s rich tourism resources.
These resources include Ikogosi Warm and Cold Spring Resort, Efon Alaaye Waterfall, Ipole-Iloro Waterfall, Oriole and Olosunta Hills, Ero Dam and Lake, recreational parks, natural sceneries, cultural festivals, historical relics, and monuments.
“We partnered with Sterling Bank Plc to properly harness these tourism resources for economic regeneration, wealth creation, and the generation of employment opportunities across our communities by eliminating the funding barriers limiting our tourism entrepreneurs.
“Beyond infrastructure development, we are aware that only financially included tourism operators can deliver services that would meet the expectation of tourists. We are glad that more tourism entrepreneurs are accessing funding to improve their business. I urge all beneficiaries of the Sterling Tourism Development Fund to make productive use of it,” Professor Bakare advised.
Divisional Head Retail and Consumer Banking, Sterling Bank, Mr Shina Atilola, commended the Ekiti State Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi, for the opportunity to partner with the Ekiti State Ministry of Arts, Culture and Tourism to eradicate poverty and encourage entrepreneurship among indigenes of the State.
“In the first instance, our target is to support 2000 MSMEs in the State with loans, capacity development, and digital marketing support to take their businesses to the next level. Currently, we are disbursing loans to the second set of 202 beneficiaries. Before now, we had granted loans to 90 people under this scheme, bringing the total number of beneficiaries to 292. The next disbursement will accommodate between 500 and 1,000 people,” Atilola informs.
The Divisional Head of Retail and Consumer Banking, who harped on integrity to the beneficiaries, assured them that the bank would also help to advertise their products and services online to attract global patronage.
He noted that fulfilling the loan terms is crucial to the continued enjoyment of other robust packages embedded in the scheme.
According to Atilola, one of the perks of partaking in the scheme is access to the Sterling Education Finance Loan for beneficiaries.
It helps parents to pay their children’s school fees while they pay back conveniently in bits.
However, only beneficiaries who regularly make payments and do not default on their loans would be able to access the value-added product.
Additional benefits that come with the Education Finance Loan are free school bags, water bottles and raincoats for their children during the rainy season.
Sterling Bank Plc is at the forefront of the private sector drive to revitalize the country’s fledging domestic tourism sector, which has the potential to stimulate economic growth, inclusive development, and environmental sustainability.
The bank’s intervention is stimulating innovation and entrepreneurship in the tourism sector and should activate the potential of Ekiti to attract local and international tourists to its rich and unique destinations and attractions.