In its bid to position Lagos State as a conducive environment that enables businesses thrive, 25 beneficiaries of the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF) loan programme were amongst the over 100 leading vendors who attended the 2018 edition of the annual Simply Nigerian Fair (SNF) to showcase their various products and services. The fair, which is in its fourth edition took place on Sunday, May 6, 2018, at the Garden Fusion Centre in Ikoyi, Lagos.
The LSETF beneficiaries, who were selected based on their related expertise and play in the sectors being exhibited included entrepreneurs within the following niche: fresh produce; plants and flower; food and beverage; fashion and footwear; hair and body and home and lifestyle. They took advantage of the serene environment to engage and expose their products to the hundreds of visitors and other guests. The ambiance at the event afforded the LSETF beneficiaries the opportunity to further push their products to the consumers as well as network with other vendors all in one spot.
Speaking on their opportunity to exhibit at the fair, Mr. Ayodeji Ijaware, who runs Dej Fashion Company, an expressive retail fashion brand that specializes in manufacturing and distribution of exquisite fashion items, said his attendance at the fair made possible by the LSETF has given his business the needed positive push. “I understand vendors were required to pay a substantial fee to showcase their products, but I paid nothing to come here all thanks to LSETF. That alone is a necessary incentive we receive as beneficiaries of the loan programme. The support we get to attend fairs and exhibitions is very commendable as it helps to encourage and grow our businesses,” Ijaware said.
Another LSETF beneficiary cum exhibitor, Adeola Paul-Inyang, the founder of Abela by Scents of Africa, a brand that produces scented candles, while speaking about her attendance to showcase her products at the fair said; “It is an amazing experience for us primarily because we were able to connect with the target audience that we had structured as a brand and the people who appreciate what we do. It is a wonderful outing for us.”
Similarly, the founder of Happy Coffee Nigeria, Princess Adeyinka Tekenah noted that the fair handed her the opportunity to further drive the idea of drinking Nigerian grown coffee to visitors. “Our attendance at the fair has been awesome for us and it is always a great opportunity for us to showcase what we do as a brand which promotes Nigerian locally grown coffee. The LSETF since we started our business is one of our strongest supporters by giving us a loan which had a significant impact on the business.
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“Hopefully with the LSETF support, we would be able revitalise our coffee farms from the South West Nigeria to places like Taraba, Jos and the rest of them in five to ten year,” she added.
In his remarks about the participation of LSETF beneficiaries as vendors at the fair, the Executive Secretary of LSETF, Akin Oyebode said; “We are delighted that the Fund since inception is not only providing access to much desired finances for small business holders, at the most competitive rate in the country, but we are also providing institutional supports such as trainings for the beneficiaries; working with relevant government departments, ministries and agencies to entrench an enabling environment for MSMEs to thrive and now we are providing networking opportunities for them to increase market share. All these efforts are geared towards consolidating the acclaimed enterprising capabilities of the Lagos business man and woman.
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“We understand that being at exhibitions, provide our beneficiaries, who have taken the loans to invest in their businesses, the opportunity to showcase their product or services, grow their market share, create wealth, put our youths to work and be in a superior position to repay the loans.” he said.
The Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (“LSETF”), was established by The Lagos State Employment Trust Fund Law 2016 to inspire the creative and innovative energies of all Lagos residents by providing access to financial and institutional supports to enterprises and by building capacity for unemployed youths for wealth and employment creation.
With a ₦25Billion seed fund provided by the Lagos State Government for four years, the Fund aims to support about 28,057 MSMEs; create at least 133,017 direct & up to 217, 633 indirect jobs by 2019.
To achieve its mandate, the LSETF launched three key programmes:
The Loan Scheme
Through this scheme Lagos residents who are promoters or owners of small business can apply to access very affordable loan financing to grow their businesses. Micro Enterprise start–ups can get a loan of up to ₦250,000; existing Micro-businesses can get a loan of up to ₦500,000; while small scale businesses can get a loan of up to ₦5,000,000, all at 5% interest rate per annum and with zero collateral.
The Employability Programme
The LSETF’s Employability Programme, which is in partnership with United Nations Development Fund (UNDP) aims to train and secure jobs for 10,000 unemployed and under-employed youths in Lagos. They are trained to provide skilled labour to the key sectors of the Nigerian economy such as manufacturing, construction, hospitality, entertainment, healthcare services and garment making.
The Lagos Innovate
With Lagos Innovate, the Fund aims to sustain Lagos’ status as Africa’s most vibrant tech hubs by providing support and funding to the Lagos based tech ecosystem. Under this programme, founders and operators of co-working spaces and innovation hubs will be able to apply for one of its first three programmes: Workspace Vouchers, Hub Loans and Events Sponsorship, through open, merit-based, online applications processes.