The much-anticipated second edition of the Fidelity International Trade and Creative Connect (FITCC) got off to a boisterous start on Tuesday, 24 October 2023 as leading financial institution -Fidelity Bank Plc -hosted a broad range of businesses, regulators, members of the diplomatic corps and other guests to the opening ceremony in Houston, Texas, United States of America.
Tagged FITCC Houston, the two-day event is aimed at achieving several objectives including increasing the pipeline of Nigerian businesses that export into the US market, providing the diaspora market more ethnic product options and enabling exporters to build capacity to improve product quality and meet international standards.
Welcoming participants to the event, MD/CEO, Fidelity Bank Plc, Mrs. Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe, said, “Developments on the global scene have necessitated the need to constantly seek viable alternatives as businesses work to stay competitive in a rapidly evolving macro-economic environment. On the supply side, businesses are waking up to the imperative of catering to an international customer base in order to hedge against currency devaluation risks, increase the reach of their products and to ultimately ensure the long-term sustainability of their ventures. Indeed, globalization has emphasized the need for businesses to improve in terms of cross border offerings and collaborations.
“To bridge these gaps, we created the Fidelity International Trade & Creative Connect (FITCC) in 2022 and hosted the inaugural edition of the expo in London last November. At the event, we had over 100 Nigerian businesses connected to United Kingdom business counterparts and deals worth about 200 million dollars closed on the spot and post-event. This year, we are taking it a notch higher as we aim to close deals worth about 250million dollars. We have therefore put in place an elaborate experience to help stakeholders achieve this and several other objectives at this expo.
Following the welcome address, keynote and goodwill addresses were presented by the President & Chairman of the Board of Directors African Export–Import Bank (Afreximbank), Professor Benedict Oramah; and Nigeria’s Ambassador to the United States of America, Dr. Uzoma Emenike respectively.
A key part of the event was the exhibition which featured more than 160 Nigeria and US-based businesses active in the fintech, commodities, fashion, cosmetics, service, creative, agriculture and extractive industries in the non-oil sector.
One of the exhibitors and the Founder/CEO, Oriki Spa, Joyce Awosika said, “We look forward to meeting all our amazing customers and we promise them an impactful experience with our products that would leave a lasting impression. We urge them to join us at booth 520 here at FITCC Houston.”
The expo also featured the signing of a $40million pre-export finance facility in favour of JohnVents Industries -one of the exhibitors at the expo. The loan, which has been adjudged as a landmark development by analysts in the exports space -would be provided by AFREXIM Bank with Fidelity Bank acting as the local administrative agent.
“We are delighted to participate in the tripartite loan signing ceremony as it demonstrates the size of the opportunity in the Nigerian cocoa market and its potential to meet the demand of off-takers in the US. The ceremony also highlights the value of our partnership with AFREXIM Bank especially in providing much-needed credit to last mile beneficiaries to upscale their operations and cater to a global market. These align with our objectives for FITCC and we are thrilled to host the formal deal signing event here”, commented an elated Mrs. Onyeali-Ikpe in a chat with journalists at the event.
Day 1 of FITCC Houston closed out with a fashion show dedicated to unique Nigerian pieces. Themed, “The Connect Plus Fashion Show”, the event featured elegantly styled-models adorning distinctive and culturally inspired designs from several Nigerian labels including Bijelly Couture, Eclectic Chique and MODChic. The fashion show also provided networking opportunities for guests and participants.