Ondo Plans N15bn Employment Trust Fund for SMEs



 James Sowole in Akure

Ondo State Governor, Mr. Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (SAN), has said his administration is planning to establish a N15billion State Employment Trust, with the sole purpose of developing Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).

The governor revealed the plan of the administration in a statement signed by the Chief Press Secretary, Ade Akinuoye, saying  the purpose of the intervention was to make Ondo State a worthy living place for residents.

According to the governor, the trust fund, which  would specifically target women-led startup businesses, food and agri-business, health related startup businesses, environment and energy businesses, would be managed by experienced fund managers.

The governor, who spoke during a recent meeting with members of the diplomatic community in Abuja, said his administration planned to make Ondo State an investor destination.

Akeredolu told the diplomatic community that his administration planned a “Project Light-up Ondo” with the application of small renewable energy technologies and captive Independent Power Project (IPP) projects to power at least 60,000 households in the riverine communities of the southern senatorial district of the state.

He explained that his administration would be seeding the fund with N1billion yearly while the strategy for co-founding would be from development banks in Nigeria, non-governmental organisations, foundations and multilateral partners.

Akeredolu added that his government would unveil a scheme in partnership with development partners to empower about 20,000 youths and women in agric-business in a bid to boost job creation.

The governor, reminded interested investors that Ondo State has the deepest and longest coastline in the West Africa sub-region.

Akeredolu, who informed the diplomatic community of his administration’s preparedness to exploit to the fullest the inherent advantages of the Olokola Free Trade Zone (OKFTZ) project which had lingered over the years with the inability of successive governments to start-off the project which has among other potentials of being private sector led with a maximum of 40 per cent government participation, said a nine-man technical committee had been constituted to reactivate the project.

He said: “In addition to oil and gas, Ondo State boasts of possessing the second largest reserve of bitumen in the world. It is also endowed with large deposits of various solid minerals including limestone in Okeluse Arimogija, granite kaolin, silica sand, among other minerals.”