Lagos State governor Akinwunmi Ambode on Tuesday revealed that N3.5 billion of the staggering N24 billion set aside for small scale businesses in the state is now ready for assessment by beneficiary firms.
The N3.5 billion initial release which represents 16 per cent of the total sum would be made available through the state’s Employment Trust Fund (ETF) scheme.
Ambode confirmed this in Lagos at the presentation of cheques amounting N924.7 million to 1,438 beneficiaries.
Represented by the Commissioner for Employment and Wealth Creation, Babatunde Durosimi-Etti, the governor charged the ETF board to increase the pace of disbursment.
He said the board should ensure that by the end of the year, at least 20,000 businesses would have benefited from the programme. In January 2017, Ambode signed the N25billion ETF bill into law to address unemployment and promote wealth creation through entrepreneurial development in Lagos state. In the build up to making the fund hit the N24 billion mark, the state is injecting N6.25 billion annually into the fund for the next four years.
Ambode said one of the success stories of the programme was the achievement of a company run by two young women, called Jand2Gidi, which was among the first set of beneficiaries.
“Today, they have invested their loan in buying motorcycles for their delivery men, and hired people to operate those motorcycles.
“Not only are they repaying their loan, they have also created at least 10 direct jobs for Lagos residents, thereby increasing the economic activity across the state. We eagerly expect to celebrate many more success stories like this,” he said.
Ambode encouraged the new beneficiaries and potential beneficiaries to emulate those who were repaying their loans, thereby ensuring the success of the programme.
The governor urged everyone with an existing business or desirous of starting one to take advantage of the opportunity, noting that the process of assessing and selecting beneficiaries was transparent and also urged beneficiaries to pay back as at when due.
Also speaking at the event, the Chairman of the ETF Board, Ifueko Omougi, gave an assurance that the selection process would continue to meet globally acceptable standards.
She urged applicants to report any irregularities.
Some of the beneficiaries appreciated the state government for the gesture, assuring that the fund would be used to expand their businesses.
The beneficiaries also promised to make the repayment plan their priority.