Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode on Thursday flagged off the Dangote Foundation Micro Grant Programme, with a charge to beneficiaries to see the grant as an opportunity to earn a living for themselves and their household.
The Governor, who gave the charge at the official flag off for the N400million grant to 40,000 women provided by the Dangote Foundation, also assured that his administration would be consistent in providing enabling environment, continuous development and economic empowerment for the residents irrespective of their tribe, creed or religion.
He said, “Let me also use this opportunity to appeal to the first set of beneficiaries not to abuse the opportunity afforded them by the Micro-Grant Programme. The seed grants you will receive have been provided to enable you engage in petty commercial activities and cottage business that would put food on the table for your family and not a largesse that should be spent frivolously.”
He said the decision of Dangote to share his wealth with the people of Lagos State was a strong indication of love and support for the well-being of the people in the State, adding that the gesture shows a depth of character and compassion that should be emulated by other persons who are equally endowed.
“The real essence of wealth is to improve the standard of living of people around us, true wealth is measured not by the property one acquires but by the ability to positively affect the society and lift up less privileged people,” he said.
Governor Ambode said he would ensure the grant is administered to benefit the targeted disadvantaged and vulnerable members of the society, especially the widows and other special interest persons.
“The micro-grant programme is designed to enhance the income generating capacity of beneficiaries through seed grants of N10, 000 and other accessories. I urge members of the Micro-Grants Beneficiary selection committee to ensure transparency in the nomination process from the ward level,” he said.
He also urged the Micro-Grants Beneficiary Selection Committee to ensure that no one is denied access to the facility on the basis of gender, political, ethnic or religious affiliation.
Earlier in his speech, the President of Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, said he believes that supporting social and economic change through investments and interventions that improve the lives of the less fortunate is what will make a positive difference in the growth of the nation.
“By supporting essential social needs, we are contributing to nation building, restoring dignity and hope, as we all work to build a better Nigeria”, Dangote said.
He emphasised that the Foundation, Aliko Dangote Foundation, is his own personal philanthropic effort and one that is not connected to his business, Dangote Industries Limited, adding that he started the foundation in 1993 and made a substantial endowment to the foundation.
“Despite the economic downturn, my foundation will continue to do the intervention. I think this is the right time to be consistent on the intervention”, Dangote said.
He highlighted the major four goals of the foundation as health and nutrition, education, disaster relief and economic empowerment.
“Today’s programme is one component of the economic empowerment programmes of the foundation and shall provide for disadvantaged and vulnerable women with one-off N10, 000 cash transfer to boost household income generation,” he said.
Also in her welcome address, the Commissioner for Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Mrs. Lola Akande, commended the initiative of the Dangote Foundation, for deeming it fit and proper to extend the scheme to women in Lagos.