When Nigeria’s tier one lender Guarantee Trust Bank (GTBank) started Fashion Weekend in 2016, it, perhaps, did not anticipate that it would become a mecca of sort for businesses.
Three years down the line, the Fashion Weekend has become a platform for showcasing Africa’s finest in fashion and ancillary industries.
It has become a consumer-focused platform designed to showcase the best of Africa’s Fashion to a global audience while promoting the effervescent enterprises of the continent’s growing fashion industry.
In the last four editions, the show has hosted over 500,000 fashion enthusiasts, 400 micro and small business owners, as well as 80 leaders in the fashion industry from more than 15 countries.
The show has so far offered 37 master classes, providing fashion entrepreneurs the rare opportunity to learn from global industry leaders and experienced brands.
The series so far have covered topics addressing challenges and opportunities across the business value chain, including: Entrepreneurship, marketing, growth & profitability, retailing, and several others.
Since 2016, the GTBank Fashion Weekend has promoted enterprises in Africa’s rapidly growing fashion industry.
It has assembled the best of fashion experts to interact with hundreds of thousands of young Africans passionate about fashion and entrepreneurship.
This year, the GTBank Fashion Weekend featured over 30 distinguished fashion leaders, designers and industry experts, providing more than 130 indigenous small businesses with free stalls to showcase and sell Africa’s finest ensemble of apparel and fashion accessories.
This year’s GTBank Fashion Weekend held on the 9th and 10th of November, bringing together the most promising, talented and recognised fashion designers brands and retail enterprises from across Nigeria and abroad to showcase trends and products to a large and diverse audience of consumers.
Entrepreneurs in the fashion industry were excited at the opportunity given to them by the bank.
One of the entrepreneurs said the Fashion Week enabled her to have access to more customers and learn how to better manage her business.
Small businesses showcased a diverse range of carefully curated affordable and luxury apparel, footwear, accessories, beauty items, and much more.
Participants at the weekend were excited at the exposure, master classes and funding opportunity provided by the programme. A number of small businesses urged the bank to do the programme twice in a year to enable the fast-growing fashion industry to scale.
“Africa is home to some of the most creative fashion talents on the planet, and we are delighted and proud to provide them with a global platform that connects them to the world,” Segun Agbaje, chief executive officer and managing director of Guaranty Trust Bank Plc, said.
“Our goal is to not only showcase the wealth of talent, innovation and enterprise that abound in Africa’s fashion space, but to also grow the continent’s contribution to the global fashion industry by empowering budding entrepreneurs at home with everything they need to thrive on the world stage,” he noted.
He further said that at the heart of the GTBank Fashion Weekend is the bank’s vision of “promoting enterprise in industries where we believe that we can help small businesses grow and dominate.”
“In fashion, as well as in food and the creative industry, we see not just the amazing talents and passion of our people, but how, by championing their entrepreneurial spirit, we can enrich millions of lives, uplift communities and grow our economy,” he further said.
Oyinade Adegite, group head, corporate communications and external affairs of the bank, told BusinessDay that the biggest take-away is that small businesses are able to see how they can connect with customers and create new markets for themselves.
“The biggest story about the SMEs is the story of being able to push the boundaries— the paradigm shift— and being able to see opportunities,” she said.
“The biggest stories that touch our heart as an organisation are the ones that talk to us about breaking boundaries and seeing opportunities where people do not see opportunities,” she further said.
She stressed that the banks wants to see fashion entrepreneurs on the continent prosper.