The sum of N1 billion has been disbursed to some 705 beneficiaries under the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (ETF) aimed at encouraging young persons with proven business ideas.
The state governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, presented cheques to the beneficiaries, Thursday, saying it was the beginning of practical measures to create jobs for youths in the state. Each of the beneficiaries in the pilot phase of the scheme received between N50,000 and N5 million amounting to N1 billion to grow their businesses.
Governor Ambode said the idea was to ensure that for every N1 million disbursed, a minimum of five jobs should be created around that business value chain as a way of addressing unemployment.
“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 setup the ETF 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 to promote and sustain entrepreneurship and employment,” the governor said.
He commended the board of the ETF for a seamless and unbiased process, noting that the management 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.
“We are 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
“These beneficiaries are making 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, grow your businesses, create jobs for our unemployed youths and contribute to the growth of the Lagos State GDP.
“These loans have been provided at a very affordable rate of 5% per annum, far cheaper than the prevailing bank interest of 25% per annum. This is our modest way of reflating 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,” he said.
Ifueko Omoigui-Okauru, chairman of the ETF, said when the board was constituted, the governor charged them to ensure that the process ran without hitches, not considering party affiliation, ethnic or religion of the applicants.