In furtherance of its commitment to driving equality through gender inclusion, the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF) in a partnership with Access Bank on Wednesday, September 4, 2019, launched the ‘LSETF W-INITIATIVE’ to provide funding for women entrepreneurs in Lagos State to achieve their growth objectives and create jobs for the youths.
The ‘LSETF W Initiative’ has set aside a 4 billion Naira special intervention fund, contributed equally by the LSETF and Access Bank, to provide access to affordable finance for female-owned businesses in Lagos State.
The initiative will also provide business support to these businesses to stimulate growth and consequently create employment for the teeming young population in Lagos State. The intervention is expected to deepen the entrepreneurship ecosystem in the State, whilst helping to stem the tide on its unemployment rate.
Women-owned businesses or enterprises with at least 50% women ownership and have been in business for one to five years are eligible to apply for up to N5mllion loan from the programme.
At the launch of the ‘LSETF W-INITIATIVE’ at the Blue Roof, LTV 8, Agidingbi, Ikeja, Lagos, the Governor of Lagos State, His Excellency Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu expressed the commitment of his administration to tackle unemployment in the state adding that creating opportunities for small businesses and ensuring that women are in alignment with the THEMES objectives of the administration.
According to the Governor, “There is no argument that climes, where young people and women are at the centre of economic planning, have emerged prosperous, progressive and remain the model of development. In Lagos State, the Government’s strategy is to optimise and sustainably grow our local economy, projected to be the fifth-largest economy in Africa, by creating access to funds for our women entrepreneurs. We are confident that it is an intervention that would create wealth for small businesses and consequently put our young and productive youth to work.”
In his remarks, the CEO and Group Managing Director of Access Bank Plc, Herbert Wigwe said, “Access Bank is fully committed to bridging the existing gap and provide women with the support they need to successfully implement their business ideas.”
“Looking at the number of women present here today, I don’t think the initial N4billion we set aside to help women will be sufficient and based on that, the initiative fund will be increased to N10billion. Through partnerships with organisations such as LSETF, Access Bank will continue to help women break boundaries, reinvent the status-quo and take advantage of opportunities provided by technology and quality financial systems to make significant impact on the economy of Lagos State and Nigeria as a whole,” Wigwe added.
According to him, Access Bank has a long history of supporting female empowerment, offering over 8,000 personal loans valued at over N10.6billion since 2018, with over 330 loans given to women in business valued at over N16.6billion.
Also commenting, the LSETF Board of Trustees Chairman, Mrs Ifueko Omoigui-Okauru, said “The LSETF W Initiative aligns with the Fund’s strategic efforts to actualise the commitment of the State Government of ensuring that at least 50% of the beneficiaries of LSETF programmes are women.”
The BoT Chairman revealed that the Fund is incrementally achieving this
objective through its three core programmes. Women represent a total of 5,263
or 50% of the total number of loan beneficiaries and account for 43.54% of the
Fund’s total loan portfolio with (approximately
N3.07billion) so far.
Also, over 74% of the beneficiaries in our Micro-Enterprise Start-Up Programme are women. Furthermore, 49% of the total 4,909 people trained through our Employability Programme are women.
“That is not all. We have supported 16 female-led start-ups with workspace vouchers as part of the Fund’s Lagos Innovates programme which seeks to make Lagos State the tech-hub of Africa”, she added.
In addition to the unveiling of the LSETF W Initiative at the event, 600 beneficiaries of the LSETF’s flagship Loan Programme were presented with cheques in a symbolic ceremony led by the Lagos State Governor. The new beneficiaries join 10,753 other entrepreneurs who have successfully been credited with N7.5 billion in the last 4 years.