Fashola Launches N5B Lagos State Micro-Finance Scheme
Feb 19, 2008 - Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), Tuesday launched the State’s Micro-Finance Scheme with a call on beneficiaries to take advantage of the scheme to improve their economic fortunes and that of their families.
Fashola, however, advised the potential beneficiaries, which include market women and men, artisans, and small business managers among others, to endeavour to make efficient use of the loan facilities so that they could pay back on schedule in order to enable others benefit from the scheme.
The Micro-finance Scheme, starting with a seed loan facilities of N350 million with gradual expansion to N5 billion, will be administered by the Lagos State Micro-Finance through five enlisted micro-finance banks which will operate in three Senatorial Districts of the State.
The micro-finance banks are Integrated Micro-finance Bank, Mic Micro-finance Bank, LASU Micro-finance Bank, Ojokoro Micro-finance Bank and Gapbridge Micro-finance Bank.
Addressing the large audience consisting of market women and men, artisans of various skills, a representative of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), officials of participating micro-finance banks, government officials and members of the private sector among others, Fashola expressed joy that by launching the scheme, the promise he made to market women and men to give them access to credit and expand their businesses has been fulfilled.
“From Mushin to Tejuosho, Oyingbo, Oja Oba, Pelewura, Sandgrouse, Iponri, Alaba, Afolabi Ege, Balogun, Oke Arin, Trade fair, wherever your market is, this is your opportunity to access credit if you need it”, the Governor urged adding that the beneficiaries could use it for such other economic purposes as hiring a new shop, buying more goods to expand their businesses or start a new trade.
The Governor, however, warned that only those who have been paying their taxes or were able to show that they were genuinely unemployed would benefit from the scheme.
Listing those who would benefit from the scheme, the Governor included all indigent residents of Lagos State who have skills or good business ideas but lack the collateral to access credit from commercial banks to finance their businesses but added that priority would be given to poor women in the implementation of the scheme.
“In the first place, women are the greatest victims of poverty, but they play very strategic roles both as mothers and wives in the home as well as key actors in the economy,” he explained, adding, however, that the it is the goal of the government, through the scheme, to empower millions of poor men and women to function effectively as agents of wealth creation in society.
According to the Governor, the scheme will be administered by the Lagos State Micro-Finance Institution (LASMI) through the services of enlisted micro-finance banks and cooperative societies operating in the State.
“The micro-finance banks will deliver credit/loans directly to borrowers at an interest rate lower than the prevailing lending rate in conventional banks”, the Governor said, warning that no intending applicant for the loan should go through any intermediary.
Lamenting the devastating effect of poverty on more than 80 per cent of the Nigerian population in spite of the nation’s great resources, Fashola, who re-iterated that the central thrust of his administration remains poverty alleviation and sustainable economic development, declared: “This situation is clearly unacceptable for a country that has about $50 billion in external reserves and a rising Gross Domestic Product.”
According to the Governor, while Integrated Micro-finance Bank will operate in all the three Senatorial Districts of the state namely Lagos West Senatorial District, Lagos East Senatorial District and Lagos Central Senatorial District, LASU and Ojokoro micro-finance banks will operate only in the Lagos West Senatorial District, Mic Micro-finance Bank only in the Lagos East Senatorial District while Gapbridge will operate only in the Lagos Central Senatorial District.
In his remarks, the State Commissioner for Finance, Mr. Rotimi Oyekan, said the micro-finance initiative was meant to provide reliable and affordable wholesale fund for on-lending by finance institutions, to be utilized as a change agent and to partner with development finance organizations, international donor agencies and commercial social investors to reach a larger number of people.
Speaking on behalf of the participating micro-finance banks, the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of the Gapbridge Micro-finance Bank, Mr. Kunle Akeju, pledged that the participating banks would live up to the expectations of the government.
Earlier in her welcome address, the Commissioner for Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Mrs. Joke Orelope-Adefulire lamented that in-spite of her enormous human and natural resources, Nigeria has been rank among one of the poorest nations of the world.
She expressed the hope that with the launch of the scheme, “poverty will be a thing of the past in Lagos State