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BOI's Romance With Creativity

“It is not enough to know how to act or sing. You must master the business of managing the business. You must know that what you are doing is a business. You should learn to take advantage of facilities around you. When your business grows up to the level that you have to obtain a lone, it is no more business as usual. It is no longer a one-man business in the real sense of it. If you have to take a loan, you must be able to convince your banker.”
The Divisional Director, Large Enterprises of the Bank of Industry, Joseph Babatunde, did not mince words, as he reviewed the success the bank has recorded in its dealings with the Nigerian creative industry. He spoke after the financial institution received the Creative Industry Award at the British Council, Lagos, where the bank was roundly commended for its investment in the sector.
Apart from having supported the building of cinemas and distribution platform such as Gab Okoye’s mega G-Media, Babatunde said there were plans to support the building of replicating plans and studios. “We are looking at the possibility of investing in standard studios. That is very important. The question of people going to South Africa to shoot films or even jingles has been raised on several occasions. We have identified three studios now, to see how we can work with them. Studios are very critical in producing quality music and videos. So, we want to see how best to get quality works out.”
Babatunde also noted that BoI’s funding of cinema projects had been very successful as operators of such projects who took loans from the bank are not defaulting. He gave the example of FilmHouse, established a few years ago by Kenneth Mkparu, which, he said, had finished repaying the loan it got from the bank.
“We introduced the idea of a collection account together with a commercial bank, so that in FilmHouse’s ticketing arrangement, the money coming in was being domiciled in that account, and as they put the money in there, at the end of every month, we got money directly from the bank,” Babatunde explained.
“And it will interest you to know that that particular account has finished paying through that arrangement. The arrangement was so good that the company succeeded in repaying the full loan through the proceeds from the business – through that collection account.”
Also according to Group Head, Creative Desk at BoI, Mrs Uche Nwuka, the bank has been working with the British Council especially in the area of capacity building for stakeholders in the entertainment sector.
“The award presented to us as the best financial institution that has supported the creative industry,” she said. “From their own analysis, they found out that BoI has been supporting the industry from the first day the government announced the need to do so based on sector’s contribution to the GDP
“BoI has been working with some organisations, especially the British Council, in the areas of mapping out the industry, capacity building and capacity training of stakeholders.”
She noted that the company had supported some eight different projects in the industry, including FilmHouse, which she described as the bank’s baby. “We supported this project without any collateral and we are happy to say that the project performed very well. This kind of contribution was also reviewed by the British Council.”
Other projects the bank has supported are Silverbird Cinema, Ozone Cinema and Viva Cinema. It also supported the production of Flower Girl and a film adapted from Chimamanda Adichie’s novel, Half of a Yellow Sun.
Nwuka added that outside loan structures, BoI had supported the exhibition of Nigeria’s creative potential when it powered Cultural Olympiad during the 2012 Olympic Games in London. She noted that the company believes that happenings in the creative industries worldwide, covering fashion, music, film and TV, theatre, literature and arts and craft, have shown that some of the world’s most talented youths are either Nigerians or of Nigerian origin.
BoI’s sponsorship of the cultural olympiad covered the staging of three plays produced by Lufodo Productions. These are Wole Soyinka’s The Lion and the Jewel, directed by Niji Akanni; Fred Agbeyegbe’s The King must Dance Naked, directed by Bayo Oduneye; and Sefi Atta’s The Naming Ceremony. The plays variously featured star actors such as couple founders of Lofodo, Olu Jacobs and Joke Silva,
Toyin Osinaike, Keppy Ekpeyong, Edmond Enaibe, O C Ukeje, Segun Arinze and Bimbo Akintola. Speaking during a conference at the event, one of the bank’s officials, Waheed Olagunju, had said, “The service sector, through our creative industries, easily stands out as one of Nigeria’s leading exports if not the biggest in terms of global reach, territorially and demographically. While we know where Nigeria’s oil and gas are sold, we are not able to track the works of Nigerian artists, musicians, writers, film producers, fashion designers. In spite of our challenges, they are all over the world.”