GOVERNOR Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State on Monday said that some 10,000 beneficiaries had received more than N7 billion under the state Employment Trust Fund (LSETF) loan programme in the last three years.
Ambode disclosed this at the presentation of cheques to another batch of over 2,000 beneficiaries in Alausa, Ikeja.
He said it was gratifying that the initiative was meeting the objectives of creating jobs and contributing to the growth of the economy.
Ambode expressed fulfilment that the initiative, a brainchild of his administration, had positively impacted many Lagosians and helped to scale up entrepreneurship with many businesses now thriving.
“Today is a historic day. It is one of those days that we have this fulfilment that we tried our hands on something that was never done before and years after, we are able to see the result.
”And I just want to say a big thank you to all of you that have accepted to be partners in this programme and to just congratulate ourselves that a day like this can come in Lagos State.
“I am particularly delighted to be here today to see for myself the manifestation of a small dream we had at the inception of this government and the little seed we have sown in the lives and businesses of Lagosians,” he said.
He said the wonderful stories about the initiative were the true outcomes of governance, adding that the vision was to use it to grow Lagos economy by supporting entrepreneurship, which in turn, would help to create jobs for unemployed residents.
The Governor said in line with his promise of inclusive governance, the beneficiaries of the LSETF programmes range from the youth to senior citizens in active business across all the Local Government Areas.
Giving a breakdown of the loans and women participation, Ambode said the government’s commitment to women was evident in the number of them that were beneficiaries.
“Before today, we had a total of 3,652 female loan beneficiaries to the 4,280 male loan beneficiaries,” he said.
According to him, a big validation of the success achieved comes from the over 25,000 new direct jobs created directly by businesses in the state.
“Apart from the jobs being created, I am especially pleased to see testimonials from some of our beneficiaries.
“I watched the video of Ibrahim Shuaib; a final year student of Dentistry at the Lagos State University Medical School.
“With a loan of N250,000, Ibrahim has not only grown his dry-cleaning business, employing over 20 people but also started another business which his sister runs,” he said.
Aside from the loan, the governor said he was also proud of another programme of the LSETF known as the Lagos Employability Support Programme being executed in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
He said that 3,363 unemployed youth had so far been trained out of the 10,000 targets, with over 1,100 of them now either employed or running their own businesses.
On efforts of the LSETF to make Lagos the leading destination for Africa’s most exciting tech talent and start-ups, he said it was pleasing to note that under the Lagos Innovates Programme, 75 start-ups had been awarded workspace vouchers.
This, according to him, provides their businesses with access to excellent infrastructure and a community where they can incubate and pursue their dream of becoming Africa’s emerging unicorns without bearing the associated cost.
Ambode, therefore, charged the beneficiaries to use the funds to grow their businesses and pay back as and when due.
He also expressed optimism about the sustainability of the scheme, saying it was instructive that the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, had already expressed commitment to the initiative.
Earlier, LSETF Board of Trustees Chairman, Mrs Ifueko Omoigui-Okauru, said the presentation of cheques was another milestone in the journey of providing financial support to micro, small and medium enterprises for economic growth and job creation.
She appreciated the various agencies and institutions which partnered with the LSETF to bring about the successes so far recorded.
Omoigui-Okauru urged others to take a cue from them by collaborating where and when necessary, to further advance the objectives of the initiative.
Responding on behalf of the beneficiaries, Mr Adeoye Olumide of Jetco Global Farms, whose company was granted N3.750 million loan, said he applied and got the loan without knowing anybody in government.
He said the multiplier effect of the scheme was amazing, as more people would be employed in his business.