In line with its vision to boost the Lagos economy through job creation leveraging micro, small, medium Enterprise (MSMEs) operating in Lagos State as well as provide loans to entrepreneurs operating within the state, the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF) has signed a partnership agreement with Hon. Wale Raji Women Empowerment Scheme, a brain child of Federal lawmaker representing Epe Constituency in the House of Representatives, Hon. Wale Raji.
The Memorandum of Understanding on the partnership agreement was signed on Friday, July, 14, 2017, at Epe in Lagos.
As part of the partnership arrangement, the lawmaker will provide the sum of Ten Million naira (N10,000,000:00), which will be matched by the LSETF with another Ten Million naira (N10,000,000:00) to fund the Hon. Wale Raji Women Empowerment Scheme. The LSETF will act as the administrator of the scheme and the Ibile Microfinance Bank will be the custodian of the pool of funds.
Under the partnership arrangement, business owners and promoters specifically women operating within Epe Constitency can get loans from the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF) to invest in their businesses at interest free rates. With this agreement, the 5% interest rate originally meant to be paid per annum on loans serviced to the LSETF will be paid by Hon. Wale Raji to ease the burden on applicants of the loans.
Speaking on the development, the Executive Secretary of the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF), Mr. Akintunde Oyebode said the project is a step in the right direction as it answers the LSETF’s call for funding partnership from individuals, private organisations, donor agencies, not-for-profit organisation for its various programmes aimed at combating the ugly scourge of unemployment by boosting the capacity of small businesses through access to affordable financing as well as providing training for the unemployed and putting them to work.
“Today we are signing an agreement between the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF) and Hon. Wale Raji’s Foundation. Under that agreement, we will offer loans of up to Five Hundred Thousand Naira (N500,000) to constituents in Epe with Hon. Wale Raji paying the interest on behalf of the beneficiaries. As a result of this arrangement, the loans will be available to the beneficiaries at no interest rate.
“We are very excited at what we are doing with Hon. Wale Raji and this indicates a step in the right direction. Hon. Wale Raji indicated his desire to help businesses in Epe grow and for people in his constituents to do well.
“This is a great model for proper representation and we also ask well meaning Nigerians in Lagos State who wants to run similar programmes in their communities to please contact us at the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF),” Mr. Oyebode said.
He admonished the beneficiaries to be responsible lenders to ensure smaller business equally benefits from the scheme. “I urge the beneficiaries to use the money responsibly by investing all of it in their businesses. They also have to understand the importance of repaying their loans when due and as their businesses expand, they should put more of our unemployed young men and women to work.”
Similarly, the LSETF in May 2017, entered into a $4 million partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to provide support to its Employability Programme. Through the partnership, UNDP and LSETF will expand employment opportunities for up to 10,000 youths by upgrading the quality of teaching skills and the curriculum of technical colleges and vocational centers in line with the local demand and needs: Provide training in relevant sectors for which skilled and employable youths meet local labour demand and ensure job matching and skilled promotion for trained beneficiaries. The project will improve the quality of vocational training programmes for the manufacturing, health care, construction, entertainment, tourism and hospitality sectors, upgrade training content to make the labour force technically more competent, strengthen vocational instructor training and improve the capabilities of the participating technical colleges and vocational training centers (VTCs) to plan and manage the training programmes.
In his remarks, Hon. Wale Raji disclosed that the partnership was necessary to improve small and medium scale businesses in Epe and Lagos State in general. “I am happy today that a thought that came to me as an individual which I shared with my close aides came into fruition. When I commenced my electioneering campaign, one of the major issues that propped up during discussions was the availability of loans for women who are doing business and how we can make affordable loans accessible to them,” Hon. Raji said.
Speaking further, the lawmaker said “I made a promise at that time that I will make arrangements with relevant agencies to ensure affordable loans were made accessible to women for them to invest and grow their businesses in the process. The signing of this partnership with the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF) is to show that we can put an efficient model in place for our people to easily access loans that will be of benefit to them.”
Hon. Wale Raji further disclosed that plans are underway to enter into another arrangement with the LSETF to ensure the male folks also benefit in accessing loans to invest in their businesses.
At the completion of the event, the first set of beneficiaries of the loans under this arrangement were handed application forms. The application forms will subsequently be put through the LSETF vetting process with the IBILE Microfinance Bank saddled with the responsibility of managing the funds provided by the Hon. Wale Raji foundation and the LSETF.
About The Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF)
The Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF) is a Lagos State Government Initiative created as part of its commitment to boost the Lagos economy through job creation, leverage and access to finance for micro, small, medium Enterprise (MSMEs) operating in the State. LSETFs’ mandate also include provision of training for the unemployed and job placements for the employable; mentorship and support for SME owners and improvement of the policy environment to ensure a conducive operational environment for small businesses in the state.
The Fund is poised to provide support to at least 100,000 MSMEs; create at least 300,000 direct & up to 600,000 indirect jobs by 2019. The LSETF is also mandated to provide training and job placements for the unemployed; mentorship for SME owners and improvement of the policy environment to ensure a conducive operational environment for small businesses in the state.
Through this scheme promoters and owners of micro start – up business can get a loan of up to N250,000; micro-business can get a loan of up to N500,000; while small-businesses can get a loan of up to N5,000,000 all at 5% interest rate per annum.
About Mr. Akintunde Oyebode, Executive Secretary of LSETF
Akintunde Oyebode is a trained Economist. He worked as a Research Assistant at the Lagos Business School, and spent over a decade in various banking roles with First City Monument Bank (FCMB) and Stanbic IBTC Bank. Prior to being appointed as Executive Secretary of the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF), he was the Head of SME Banking at Stanbic IBTC Bank.