Lagos Injects N350 Million Into Micro-Finance Fund
Nov 23, 2009 - Lagos State Government Monday handed out cheques totaling N175 million to eight Micro-finance banks operating in the State as its counterpart fund for the operation of the State’s Micro Finance Scheme.
The Banks which are partnering with the Government in the operation of the Scheme, will add another N175 million bringing the fund to N350 million for disbursement to beneficiaries of the scheme.
The Micro-finance banks include Integrated Micro-finance Bank, MIC Micro finance Bank, LASU Micro finance Bank, Gap Bridge Micro finance Bank and Ojokoro Micro finance Bank which have been on board since the inception of the scheme, and GS Micro finance Bank , Infinity Micro finance Bank and Townsend which joined the scheme recently.
In his remarks during the brief ceremony at the Lagos House, Alausa, the State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN) said by the scheme, the State Government has adopted to promote sustainable economic growth as a strategy to deal with the issue of poverty which, according to him, abounds globally.
The Governor said by adopting this strategy, Government jettisoned the idea of giving out money, by way of grants, to unemployed or indigent people adding that instead such people are encouraged to acquire skills in order to benefit from the scheme.
“We felt that the idea of giving money to this category of people was demeaning of their dignity and we encourage them to acquire skills which we provide in 14 Skill Acquisition Centres currently operating in the State”, the Governor said adding that those who already have skills are also encouraged to come out with a programme or business that they wish to do.
According to the Governor, “It is consistent with the dignity of man to work and earn a living instead of receiving handouts”, adding, “Every time we disburse a micro-finance loan, we have helped, not only to employ people by themselves, but also to put them in the capacity to employ others”.
Governor Fashola who said 23, 487 people have benefited from the scheme since inception in February last year, pointed out that the importance of the scheme lay in the fact that it helps Government to address the problem of access to credit by small businesses whether in the formal or informal sector who had over the years found it difficult to deal with more formal and structured banking system that hampers their access to credit.
“We believe that no person should be left behind and we have resolved to fill this vacuum by setting up not only the Lagos State Micro finance Institution by an enabling law but also engaging again the private sector operators of Micro finance who we believe have the individual skills and the necessary corporate presence to monitor the disbursements, to advise small businesses on how to keep their record and accounts and also on how to comply with the terms of the credit”, the Governor said.
Commending the beneficiaries for not recording any default in repayment of the loans, the Governor again declared, “It confirms one thing clearly; that the poor can pay; that the poor has honour and that they will keep their promises voluntarily made”, adding that what the poor do not have is the kind of means to access loan from big banks, a deficiency which the micro finance scheme seeks to correct.
He expressed joy that three more micro finance banks have joined the scheme adding that it shows that the scheme is expanding and that credit is coming closer to the people.
Earlier in her introductory remarks, the Commissioner for Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Honourable Joke Orelope-Adefulire, said the idea of Micro-finance scheme is anchored on the policy thrust of the present administration which, according to her, “is poverty alleviation and sustainable economic growth using the private sector as engine for growth”.
Recalling that the Government’s determination to set up LASMI was informed by its discovery that many men and women in small businesses find it difficult to access credit from formal banks, the Commissioner disclosed that last year alone, a total of N1.4 billion was disbursed to members of the public including market women and men, graduates of the State’s Skill Acquisition Centres and artisans practicing in Lagos State as well as other categories of unemployed youths in the State.
Also present at the ceremony were members of the State Executive Council including the Commissioner for Finance, Mr. Rotimi Oyekan, the Commissioner for Establishment and Training, Mr. Jide Sanwoolu, representatives of the Micro finance banks among other top government functionaries.