From Idowu Abdullahi, Lagos
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on Wednesday launched ‘LSETF W-INITIATIVE’ to provide funding for women entrepreneurs in the State to achieve their growth objectives and create jobs for the youths.
The LSETF W-INITIATIVE, is a special intervention fund contributed between the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund and Access bank Plc, to provide access to affordable finance for female-owned businesses in Lagos State.
The scheme, which targets between 5,000 and 10,000 women, was launched by Governor Sanwo-Olu at LTV Blue Roof as part of activities marking his 100 days in office, according to a statement by Sanwo-Olu’s Chief Press Secretary, Gboyega Akosile.
The event was attended by various women groups and entrepreneurs led by the president (Iyaloja-General) of Market Women Association, Chief Folashade Tinubu-Ojo.
The Governor said the initiative was a measure to drive up financial inclusion among women and create financial access for SMEs in state, emphasising that it will also provide support to businesses to stimulate growth and consequently create employment for the teeming young population in the State.
The Governor further expressed the commitment of his administration to tackle unemployment in Lagos, adding that creating opportunities for small businesses and ensuring that women are also in alignment with the THEMES objectives of the administration.
He said: “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.
Wigwe said 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.”