(Voice Of Nigeria) The Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode has presented cheques worth over N1billion to about 705 beneficiaries of the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (ETF) pilot scheme.
The Governor urged them to utilize the funds responsibly to grow their businesses, create jobs for the unemployed youths and contribute to the growth of the Lagos economy.
Governor Ambode, said his administration identified unemployment as a major socio-economic challenge facing Lagos State and Nigeria as a whole.
“The setting up of the ETF was a direct response to address the challenge of unemployment, as well as provide support to the youths, entrepreneurs, artisans and other unemployed residents of the State,” the Governor said.
According to him, “We have kept our word. We created a dedicated Ministry of Wealth Creation and Employment, whose mission is to promote and sustain entrepreneurship and employment.”
The Governor commended the Board and Management of the Fund for embarking on a comprehensive review of the business environment and developing a strategic framework.
They were also commended for operating guidelines to ensure the sustainable and successful management of the funds. Governor Ambode said the successful disbursement of the fund was a product of the painstaking effort.
He said the funds are targeted at Small and Medium scale businesses and individuals, calling on the beneficiaries to utilize the immense opportunity.
“You have made history as the first set of beneficiaries of this Employment Trust Fund and my charge to you is simple: You must use these funds responsibly. The idea is that for every N1million we disburse, we should create a minimum of five jobs around that business value chain.”
“These loans have been provided at a very affordable rate of five percent per annum, far cheaper than the prevailing bank interest of 25 percent per annum. This is our modest way of reflecting the Lagos economy, creating jobs and getting our youths gainfully occupied. Those of you here today, the first beneficiaries of this initiative, will be the agents through which our country can overcome its current economic challenges,” Governor Ambode stated.
“Women in business”
The Governor also enjoined market women and female artisans to take advantage of the opportunity as his administration was particularly interested in supporting women in business.
He expressed optimism that the target by the Board to empower at least 100,000 Micro, Small and Medium enterprises in due course was achievable.
He explained that the multiplier effect would be the creation of over 300,000 direct and 600,000 indirect jobs by 2019.
The Chairman, Board of ETF, Mrs. Ifueko Omoigui-Okaru said the presentation of cheques to beneficiaries was in fulfilment of the promise made by Governor Ambode during the election campaign and a confirmation of many to come.
“While canvassing for votes, the need to provide jobs was clearly on the mind of the Governor and he wasted no time in setting up the ETF Board made up of people with proven track record, as well as transferring N6.25billion for the initiative to kick off, while the Board ensured that the process was fair and transparent with no favour as to party, religion, tribe or faith and covered all the 57 Councils in the State,” She said.
One of the beneficiaries, Ahmed Ojikutu thanked Governor Ambode for the initiative, saying it is gratifying to note that the process was very transparent.
Ojikutu, who received about five million Naira, promised to utilize the bounty to grow his business.
An entrepreneur, Tosin Adesanwo, who is into bag making, also received five million naira and promised to expand his business.
Akanbi Motolani is into fruit business; she appreciated the gesture and promised to employ more hands to boost the scheme after she got two million Naira.