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GroFin helps GIA Bridals respond to COVID-19 crisis with new clothing line

COVID-19 has forced couples around the world to postpone or change their wedding plans. The virus has not only left many couples in tears – wedding vendors are just as heartbroken.

In Nigeria, the popularity of large and lavish weddings has created a million-dollar industry serviced by many small businesses. With Nigerians forced to put their wedding plans on hold due to COVID-19, many of these businesses – and the jobs they create – are now in jeopardy.

GIA Bridals, a GroFin client located in Port Harcourt, makes and rents bespoke wedding gowns to brides. The Aspire Small Business Fund (ASBF) invested in GIA Bridals in 2014 and 2017, providing the business with working capital and enabling the entrepreneur to lease and equip a larger space. Since ASBF’s investment, the business posted consistent increases in its sales and revenue.

But this year, GIA was forced to remain closed for three months during the COVID-19 lockdown in Nigeria and the business did not make any sales. Although GIA resumed operations in July, business is still slow. GIA’s owner, Ngozi Brisibe, says it would be devasting to her and her staff if her business was forced to close for good.

“We all depend on the business as our only source of livelihood.”

Ngozi Brisibe, Owner – GIA Bridals

GIA Bridals employs 11 people – 10 of whom are women. Chioma Patrick does the beadwork on GIA’s wedding gowns and has been working there for five years, supporting her mother. “This job has made it possible for me to earn my own money and I am not depending on or begging anyone to provide my basic needs. It makes me feel great and gives me confidence,” she says.

GroFin shared a customised Business Resilience Tool Kit – rolled out across the group to help clients respond to the pandemic – to help Ngozi analyse the impact on her business and especially its cashflow. “GroFin’s staff was consistently calling to find out how we were doing and providing advice on what can be done,” she says.

Ngozi’s biggest concern was whether she will be able to sustain the business until economic activity is fully restored.

“We suggested that she pivots her business away from only focusing on wedding dresses by using existing equipment for other products”

Charles Chikezie, GroFin Senior Industry Expert

Ngozi has responded by launching MyLadyUrban, a new line of women’s clothing. She says the new brand seeks to represent women as “both feminine and powerful” and will allow GIA to clothe its clients before, during, and after their weddings. “Although things seemed bad now, there’s hope for us with this new line of business,” Ngozi concludes.

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GroFin receives high accolade at Nigerian Healthcare Excellence Awards

GroFin Nigeria won the Outstanding Healthcare Project-Friendly Financial Institution of the Year Award at the Nigerian Healthcare Excellence Awards (NHEA) 2019.

The award recognises banks and financial institutions that have created an inclusive innovative financing model for healthcare entrepreneurs or healthcare SMEs across the value chain. NHEA is an initiative of Global Health Project and Resources in Partnership with Anadach group and celebrates organisations who have contributed immensely to the growth of the Nigerian healthcare sector.

Felix Ezeh, Investment Executive at GroFin Nigeria, felt honoured that GroFin was recognised for this prestigious award:

“By this award, the public that voted for GroFin made a statement that they are appreciative of the work we are doing.  We heard them.  Our promise to them is that this award will only spur us to do more.”

NHEA’s recognition aims to stimulate quality improvement and innovation in the Nigerian health sector leading to improved service delivery & management of key health issues and the capacity of individuals to influence and set new performance standards in Nigeria & beyond.

GroFin’s unique model of combining finance and business support helps healthcare entrepreneurs and SMEs overcome challenges and improves their ability to manage the complexity of a growing business. GroFin has dedicated healthcare investment and business support expertise, both through its in-house healthcare “industry experts” and through formal partnerships with specialist healthcare partners like Medical Credit Fund (MCF).

GroFin’s healthcare portfolio in Africa and the Middle East consists of investments made in 41 SMEs, representing a total investment of US$ 16M, across the value chain of businesses in the healthcare industry including hospitals, clinics, dental facilities, maternal care and pharmaceutical outlets. Business support offered by GroFin includes a business planning framework, quality management systems, cash flow advice, medical waste management systems as well as operations and management expertise. And through its investments, GroFin has over 277,280 patients able to obtain medical care services annually and has helped sustain a total of 3,950 healthcare related jobs.

The NHEA 2019 brought further good news as a GroFin Nigeria exited client Healthplus Limited won Retailer of the Year Award, further helping to cement GroFin’s impact in the health sector of Nigeria.

About GroFin

GroFin is a pioneering private development financial institution specialising in financing and supporting small and growing businesses (SGBs) across Africa and the Middle East. We combine medium term loan capital and specialised business support to grow SGBs in emerging markets. By successfully combining medium term loans and specialised business support delivered through our local offices, we have invested in over 700 SMEs and sustained over 88,150 jobs across a wide spectrum of business activities within the 15 countries in Africa and Middle East that we operate in. GroFin has its headquarters located in Mauritius.

Media enquiries: Felix Ezeh, felix@grofin.com