By Olasunkanmi Akoni & Monsur Olowoopejo
The Lagos State Government has pumped the sum of N350 million into its micro credit fund expected to be disbursed by eight micro finance banks registered under the Lagos State Microfinance Institution (LASMI).
Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State while presenting cheques to the banks at the State House, Alausa, said the move was to ensure that more beneficiaries could access the funds to start small-scale businesses.
Fashola explained that the eight microfinance banks were expected to inject N175 million while the state government on its part would provide a like sum.
The banks include Integrated Microfinance Bank, Gapbridge Microfinance Bank, LASU Microfinance Bank, MIC Microfinance Bank and Ojokoro Microfinance Bank among others.
Fashola had at a stakeholders meeting attended by artisans in the informal sector during the 900 days celebration, disagreed with the claim that over 23,487 operators in the informal sector have benefitted from the N1.4 billion that had been disbursed so far by LASMI.
The governor, however, noted that the state government had addressed the complaints raised, assuring that it had put structures in place to ensure that everyone willing to access the funds would do so without stress.
According to him, the scheme was the stateâ€™s strategy to ease the stress usually associated with accessing credit facilities in commercial banks, adding that it was also one of the reasons it shelved its earlier plans to give monthly stipends to unemployed graduates in the state.
â€œWe jettisoned the idea of giving money to the unemployed because we felt it was demeaning and therefore we encouraged them to acquire skill and then come up with their own business, access the funds. For me, this is more honourable than queue up for monthly stipends.
â€œThe micro credit scheme aside creating opportunity for people to employ themselves, they can also employ othersâ€.
Earlier, the state Commissioner for Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Mrs. Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire, noted that to ensure smooth coordination and access of the funds by interested persons, the state would meet stakeholders through the various groups and associations.