Governor Akinwunmi Ambode has officially disbursed the sum of N1bn to the first tranch of 705 beneficiaries of the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF).
The handing-over-of-cheque ceremony of the pilot scheme which is targeted at reaching 100,000 people in the next four years, held on Tuesday at the Blue Roof Auditorium situated within the premises of Lagos Television, LTV, in Agidingbi, Ikeja.
An elated Governor Ambode thanked members of the Lagos State House of Assembly for making the day a reality in the annals of the State, describing it as historic.
“Today marks a critical milestone in the actualisation of our promise to Lagosians. In the course of our campaign, we identified unemployment as a major socio-economic challenge facing Lagos State and Nigeria as a whole. In acknowledgment of this, we promised to prioritise job creation and set up an Employment Trust Fund to provide support to our youths, entrepreneurs, artisans and other unemployed residents of Lagos State.
“We have kept our word. We created a dedicated Ministry of Wealth Creation and Employment, whose mission is topromote and sustain entrepreneurship and employment,” he said.
Governor Ambode said the Board and Management of the Fund embarked on a comprehensive review of the business environment and developed a strategic framework and operating guidelines to ensure the sustainable and successful management of these funds. The result of the exercise, according to him, is what was witnessed today.
“Our role as the representatives of the people is to constantly find solutions to societal challenges and improve the lives of our people. Today, 705 beneficiaries will receive various amounts of money ranging from N50,000.00 to N5,000,000.00, totalling almost N1 billion, to grow and enhance their businesses.”
He said the government was funding businesses and individuals including carpenters, hairdressers, electricians, automobile parts repairers, block makers, bakers, fashion designers, cake makers, food sellers, kerosene retailers, mobile money agents, painters, plumbers, photographers and light manufacturers of liquid soaps and water.
He added that Small and Medium Enterprises were not left out as provision of loans to people in Hospitality, ICT, Education, Food and Beverages and Agriculture, had been available.
He concluded by saying these loans had been provided at an affordable rate of 5 per cent per annum, far cheaper than the prevailing bank interest of 25 per cent per annum.
He said the pilot scheme had selected beneficiaries from the 20 Local Governments and 37 Local Council Development Agencies of the State.
“We are particularly interested in supporting women and I enjoin our market women, female artisans and SMEs owners to take advantage of the scheme,” he said.
Meanwhile, Chairman of the Board of Directors of LSETF,, Mrs. Ifueko Omoigui-Okauru, on her part described Governor Ambode as resilient and uncompromising in his resolve to ensure the welfare of Lagosians.