•Beneficiaries to get interest free loans
By Yinka Kolawole
LAGOS State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF) has signed a partnership agreement with a member of the House of Representatives, Hon. Wale Raji to empower women in Epe Federal Constitency in Lagos.
The empowerment scheme worth N20 million is a brain child of the Federal lawmaker representing Epe Constituency in the House of Representatives.
Recall that in May, LSETF similarly entered into a $4 million partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to provide support for its employability programme to expand employment opportunities for up to 10,000 youths through skills acquisition by upgrading technical colleges and vocational centers across Lagos State.
The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), signed as part of the Hon. Wale Raji Women Empowerment Scheme stipulates that the lawmaker will provide the sum of N10 million, which will be matched by LSETF with another N10 million to fund the scheme.
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 who are women operating within Epe Constitency can get loans from LSETF to invest in their businesses at zero interest rates.
With the agreement, the five percent interest rate originally meant to be paid per annum on loans serviced to LSETF will be borne by Hon. Wale Raji to ease the burden on applicants of the loans.
Speaking on the development, Executive Secretary of LSETF, Mr. Akintunde Oyebode, said the project is in line with LSETF’s call for funding partnership from individuals, private organisations, donor agencies and, not-for-profit organisations for its various programmes aimed at combating the scourge of unemployment in Lagos State.
According to him, this will help boost 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 the agreement, we will offer loans of up to 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 want to run similar programmes in their communities to please contact us at LSETF,” Oyebode said.
In his remarks, 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. “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,” he said.