A new fashion group that was unveiled recently in Port Harcourt says it was set to create no fewer than 15,000 jobs for the people of Rivers state as it is set to partner the state government for a robust business and big fashion exhibition in the state. Mrs Ireoluwa Soetan, the co-founder of the fashion institute, in this interview, explains more. Excerpts:
Tell us what your company intends to do with the Rivers state government?
AnnAire Arts and Fashion Academy, AAF Academy is a premier fashion institute that aims at transforming the African Fashion Industry by equipping her students with global fashion entrepreneurial skills to enable them competes globally.
In partnership with the Rivers State Government, AAF Academy aims at driving job creation through entrepreneurship, fostering economic growth, and facilitating sustainability by enhancing the lives of people in Rivers State via a non-oil means, namely a more positive and inclusive fashion landscape to overcome youth unemployment and promote women empowerment, thus alleviating poverty in the state. Through AAFA’s collaboration with the Government of Rivers State, we seek to develop emerging fashion entrepreneurs in the field of fashion to run profitable and sustainable businesses that will compete on global standard.
As a result of this intervention, the lives of over 15,000 people will be greatly impacted as we will be working with a team of international and local experts based in Italy and Nigeria.
Some of these fashion experts have worked with major international brands like Givenchy in Paris, France
How many young people do you intend to empower and how will that impact on the individual economy?
Through this intervention, we look up to empower the lives of over 15,000, in the minimum, unemployed youth and women in Rivers State.
Over the years, research has proved that the oil industry in Nigeria has undoubtedly made great contributions towards the growth and development of the country.
However, via unsustainable oil exploration, the environment in the region has been highly polluted and degraded. Through further analysis, it has been discovered that the Niger Delta is now ranked among the five most damaged ecosystems in the world.
This situation of extreme environmental degradation makes it difficult for the communities in the region to engage in agrarian business activities. By our intervention, we look forward to empowering the youth and women in Rivers State to earn incomes that are legal, non-oil based and lucrative.
We also seek to reposition Rivers State as an economic hub for business as we will create a global standard garment production point that will supply customers as well as local and international off-takers with proudly made in Nigerian top-quality garments that will compete internationally.
It is also our goal to replicate the successes of our intervention across the country as we look to position Nigeria globally in the fashion industry as a producer of top-notch fashionable clothing that can compete favourably on the global stage.
What is the spread of your organization and international exposure?
We have a team of savvy international fashion instructors based in Milan, Italy and highly qualified Nigerians who have a vast understanding of how the fashion industry works.
We are also in partnership with organisations like UNESCO who are working with us to ensure we maximise the value chain of the fashion industry.
We have a growing network and ecosystem to actualize our objectives. Likewise, we believe that through our collaborative efforts with the Government of Rivers State we will be able to have an impact that is sustainable in transforming the lives of the unemployed youth and women in Rivers State.
What will the Rivers state government stand to gain in this partnership?
Through this partnership the Government of Rivers State will be impacted positively via economic growth that stems from Human capacity development. If there must be economic growth, Nigerians need to be trained to become competitive in the 21st century globalised economy which is knowledge based.
This training will increase the capacity of the participants to produce High quality Made in Rivers State/Nigeria apparel that would be sold across the globe. Likewise, the Rivers State Government will benefit from the mass empowerment of its people through job creation, a substantial increase in household incomes, international exposure as Rivers State youth will be empowered by our local and international team of experts in Italy.
Rivers State will become an economic Hub for business. There will also be a forecasted reduction in the rate of crime as unemployed youth will have secure and legal livelihoods.
Similarly, as forerunners in spearheading this project, Rivers State will serve as a success story or reference point for other states in the country to emulate.
Do you think Rivers state is economically viable for such business to thrive?
Yes, I believe Rivers state is economically viable for this Project to thrive as the current administration is open to exploring alternative means of revenue generation out with oil production which will impact peoples’ lives tremendously.
Earlier this year, Governor Wike mentioned that the current priority of his administration in Rivers State is how to attract investors to the state.
As mentioned earlier, AAFAs intervention in the State will provide a platform for Rivers State to become an economic Hub for business which will lead to further investment.
I believe that, as long as the Government collaborates and creates an enabling business environment for Social enterprises and SME businesses to thrive, more revenue will be generated in the State. Rivers State has the comparative advantage and human resources required for this empowerment to thrive.