Today marks a critical milestone in the actualization 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 to promote and sustain entrepreneurship and employment.
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 this exercise is what we are witnessing 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, Seven Hundred and Five (705) beneficiaries will receive various amounts of money ranging from Fifty Thousand Naira(N50,000.00) to Five Million Naira(N5,000,000.00), totalling almost One Billion Naira (N1bn) to grow and enhance their businesses.
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 and water.
For Small and Medium Enterprises, we have provided loans to people in Hospitality, ICT, Education, Food and Beverages and Agriculture.
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. The idea is that for every N1million we disburse, we should create a minimum of 5 jobs around that business value chain.
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.
This pilot scheme has selected beneficiaries from the 20 Local Governments and 37 Local Council Development Agencies, and provided an opportunity for the Fund to tests its processes ahead of a full roll-out next month. I urge all Lagos residents, irrespective of your tribe, religion or gender to apply for this scheme.It is for everybody.
We are particularly interested in supporting women and I enjoin our market women, female artisans and SMEs owners to take advantage of this opportunity.
I also implore the Employment Trust Fund to pay special attention to the Entertainment Industry and the Tech Hubs in Sabo, Yaba area. These are new areas with huge potential for growth and job creation.
We will continue to ensure the process is transparent and unbiased as the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund has engaged partners who have helped with the selection, verification and disbursement of the loans to beneficiaries.
The Board has promised that we will support at least One Hundred Thousand (100,000) micro, small and medium enterprises in due course and I have full confidence in their ability to achieve this result. We are starting that journey of supporting 100,000 businesses with the 705 beneficiaries here today.
Finally, I will like to express my gratitude to the different stakeholders who have made today possible, especially the Lagos State House of Assembly, which continues to perform its oversight responsibility in a thorough and efficient manner.
I thank you all for coming.
Itesiwaju ipinle Eko, lo jewa logun!