The Lagos State Employment Trust Fund, in collaboration with Polaris Bank, has unveiled a N1 billion fund for artisans operating in the state.
The Executive Director, Lagos Business, Polaris Bank, Mr Segun Opeke, during a joint media launch of the fund on Thursday in Lagos, said it was to empower the artisans.
Opeke said the partnership with the LSETF was aimed at providing the much-needed funding to create wealth for the artisans and players within the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises space in Lagos State.
He said artisans and players in the MSME space must have been in operation for a minimum of one year to access the fund.
According to him, the bank will provide N500 million counterpart funding in the partnership, while the LSETF will provide the remaining balance.
Opeke, however, encouraged artisans in the state to take advantage of the facility aimed at job creation.
He said the bank was committed to creating wealth and empowering small businesses in Lagos.
Also speaking, the Executive Secretary of LSETF, Tejumola Abisoye, said the fund was working with stakeholders to ensure sustainable job opportunities for artisans in the state.
“The LSETF, working with the Lagos State Council of Tradesmen and Artisans and the Ministry of Wealth Creation and Employment, is committed to making impact by ensuring it creates access to finance and sustainable job opportunities for artisans in Lagos State.
“We are happy to partner Polaris Bank in ensuring that this mandate is achieved, and we know that through this fund, thousands of artisan businesses across the state can become sustainable.
“At the LSETF, we are open to more strategic partnerships to reduce unemployment, by building the capacity and improving the productivity of Lagos residents,” she said.
Abisoye disclosed that the loan would be granted to the beneficiaries at a single digit interest per annum.
“We are working with Polaris Bank to grant this loan at a single digit of 9.5 per cent per annum. This is extremely important because we want it to be clear from day one that it is affordable.
“We still think it is the most affordable in the market that you can have access to at the moment,” she said.
Explaining the process of accessing the artisans’ funds, the Group Head, Products and Market, Polaris Bank, Adebimpe Ihekuna, said the scheme was highly subsidised at less than one per cent flat per month.
Ihekuna said that interested artisans should complete an application form; provide proof of verifiable business location with evidence of tenancy and domiciliation of business account to Polaris Bank.
“Applicants are also to provide business plan among other friendly terms throughout the tenor of the facility,” she said.
Ihekuna added that the scheme offered up to N5 million for the MSMEs to be able to purchase working equipment, so that even as a cobbler, vulcanizer, a barbing or hairdressing shop owner or whatever business, could create value.
She said through creating value, the businesses would also become platforms to continue to provide more employment opportunities for the youth.
On her part, the Director of Programmes of the LSETF, Omolara Adewumi, appreciated Polaris Bank for the collaboration and the gesture of coming on board, as a financial partner.
Adewumi said the MSMEs played important roles in creating jobs and reducing poverty.
“I believe the time for this kind of matching funds, which focuses mainly on artisans in Lagos State is now and we know that this collaboration will be a successful one,” she said.