In a bid to help businesses in Lagos recover, save and create more jobs in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the State Government through the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF) on Wednesday, November 18, 2020, unveiled a 5 Billion Naira “Lagos Economic Acceleration Programme (LSETF-LEAP)”.
The LSETF-LEAP is a sector-specific intervention programme aimed at supporting businesses, driving growth, and enabling job creation opportunities across targeted sectors that have been severely affected by the pandemic. The programme will provide access to affordable finance at a single-digit interest rate, enhance capacity building, access to market linkages and leverage business expansion opportunities for its beneficiaries.
The identified high-impact sectors with substantial employment creation opportunities include Education, Technology, Transport & Logistics, Healthcare, Renewable Energy and Agriculture. The Hospitality, Tourism, Creatives and Entertainment Sector have however suffered a downturn that requires intervention that seeks to protect employment previously created in businesses in this sector.
The financial loan support will be allocated as follows:
- Tourism, Hospitality, Entertainment & Culture
- Agriculture & Agribusiness
- Existing Beneficiaries Loan Renewals
- Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) Distribution Channels
Speaking at the launch of the initiative, the Executive Secretary/CEO, LSETF, Mrs Teju Abisoye said: “Without any inkling of doubt, MSMEs are central to the economic growth of any country. Hence, they will be instrumental to the economic recovery efforts following the COVID 19 epidemic, within the Lagos economy.
The Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS)-SMEDAN National Survey Report for 2017 shows that the Nigeria MSMEs contributes about 49.78% of the nation’s GDP and about 76.5% of employment for the labour force. The Q2 report on employment by the NBS also revealed that the unemployment rate increased from 23.1% (Q3 2018) to 27.1% Q2, 2020.
A Post Covid Lockdown Report on the Effect of the Pandemic on MSMEs by FATE Foundation showed that almost 95% of MSMEs were severely affected by the restriction of movement and about 82% of these businesses are most likely to lay off staff.
“These data are not only alarming but stir an urgency for the implementation of sustainable solutions to help minimise the economic damage on small businesses. The unveiling of the LSETF-LEAP seeks to revise this paradigm by transforming Lagos entrepreneurs from pandemic to prosperity with an emphasis on employment protection and job creation.
“With Lagos State currently contributing over 30 per cent of the national GDP, we must take the lead in reversing a national economic emergency. We are optimistic that these recovery programmes will not only produce accelerated outcomes but also play significant roles in creating jobs, and thus, actualising our government’s quest towards ‘Rebuilding Lagos'” she added.
In addition to providing support to the identified sectors, LSETF-LEAP would also offer opportunities for its existing, performing-loan-beneficiaries to renew their facilities; sustain their businesses, save and create new job opportunities.