I am delighted to be here today to see 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.
The Employment Trust Fund was a promise we made to Lagosians in 2015 and today, I am happy to see the faces of the people whose lives and aspirations have been positively impacted by this programme. I have seen videos and heard stories of the wonderful things our beneficiaries are doing all over Lagos and these, for me, are the true outcomes of governance.
Through the State Employment Trust Fund, we had a vision to grow the Lagos economy by supporting entrepreneurship, which in turn will create jobs for our unemployed residents.
With this batch of beneficiaries, the LSETF has now disbursed over N7 billion in loans to over 10,000 beneficiaries. In line with our promise of inclusive governance, almost half of these loans were given to women; while the beneficiaries range from the youth to our senior citizens in active business. In addition, the Fund has ensured that all 20 Local Government Areas (LGAs) and 37 Local Community Development Areas (LCDAs) have felt its impact.
A very big validation of this programme we have embarked upon comes from the over 25,000 new direct jobs created directly by these businesses in our State. This does not include the multiplier effect of those businesses on the Lagos economy and the indirect jobs created.
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.
I also read about Femi Oyedipe, whose chocolate production business, Loshes Chocolate, can now produce ten times more than before, employing more Lagosians as staff. Apart from employing more people, Loshes Chocolate makes its products from cocoa beans sourced from Ondo State, creating value for farmers outside Lagos. This is a very good example of the inter-state economic partnership Nigeria needs to grow its economy.
Another LSETF programme that we are very proud of is the Lagos Employability Support Programme, under which we have trained 3,363 unemployed youth and over 1,100 of them are now either employed or running their own businesses.
I thank the United Nations Development Fund (UNDP) for supporting this initiative. I am confident that their target to train 10,000 of our young people is achievable.
You will all agree with me that the future is tech and our Employment Trust Fund is poised to make Lagos the leading destination for Africa’s most exciting talent and start-ups. Under the Lagos Innovates Programme, 75 start-ups have been awarded workspace vouchers which 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. We have also awarded a loan to one of the leading hubs, to expand and incubate more technology start-ups in the Lagos environs.
Our commitment to women is evident in the number of women who are beneficiaries of the programmes of this Fund. Before today we had a total of 3,652 female loan beneficiaries to the 4,280 male loan beneficiaries. Under our Lagos Employability Support Programme, women represent 49% of the total number of young people that LSETF has trained while in our Lagos Innovates programme which supports a tech ecosystem dominated by men, 21% of the beneficiaries are women.
In spite of this, the Fund has assured me of their work to increase the level of female participation across all programmes, especially within Lagos Innovates.
To today’s beneficiaries, I congratulate you all and charge you to grow your businesses, create jobs for the unemployed, contribute to the growth of the Lagos GDP, and most importantly, repay your loans. As your Government, we can only provide the funds for programmes like this if you perform your civic duties, which is why I once again urge all of you to continue paying your taxes.
It is from this commonwealth that we are able to deliver programmes like the LSETF; invest in security; build and maintain infrastructure; and provide for our individual and collective social needs.
Our expectation of today’s beneficiaries is to emulate the over 1,500 beneficiaries who have successfully repaid their loans. It is because of beneficiaries like them that we continue to revolve the capital being used for LSETF’s various programmes. It is our belief that many years from now, the foundation we have laid today will produce notable businesses that Lagos State can be proud of.
I commend the Chairman, Executive Secretary, Board and Staff of the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund for translating our dream to reality and bringing it to Lagosians. I also thank the Honourable Commissioner, the Permanent Secretary and all staff of the Ministry of Wealth Creation and Employment. The Employment Trust Fund thrives today because of their total commitment to the prospect of empowering Lagos residents with employment and entrepreneurship opportunities.
Finally, I thank the Lagos State House of Assembly, especially the House Committee on Wealth Creation and Employment, who have been relentless in their support for this initiative. Their oversight and ideas have greatly enhanced the outcomes we are seeing today.
I look forward to hearing more success stories from beneficiaries of the programmes of our Employment Trust Fund. The Lagos State Government will continue to support this programme and we welcome more institutional partners and collaborators. We have only just laid the foundation; there is still a lot more to be done but I am confident that this story will only get better.
I thank you all.
Itesiwaju ipinle Eko l’o je wa logun!