Sterling Bank Plc has said that it will empower 2,000 entrepreneurs through financing, capacity development programmes and digital marketing support for the accelerated development of the tourism value chain in Ekiti communities.
A statement on Monday said 292 MSMEs in Ekiti State had benefited from the Sterling Bank Tourism Development Fund.
Addressing the beneficiaries in Ado Ekiti, the Commissioner for Culture, Arts and Tourism, Ekiti State, Prof. Rasaki Bakare, said that his ministry was established in 2019 to harness Ekiti’s rich tourism resources.
These resources included 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.
He said, “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.”
The 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.
He said, “In the first instance, our target is to support 2,000 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 assured the beneficiaries that the bank would also help to advertise their products and services online to attract global patronage.
He noted that fulfilling the loan terms was crucial to the continued enjoyment of other robust packages embedded in the scheme.