Sterling Bank Plc is partnering the Lagos State Ministry of Wealth Creation and Employment to finance Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) and artisans in the state.
Business Manager, Sterling Bank, Mr. Adesina Adeleke, disclosed this at the graduation ceremony and 8th Tradesmen and Artisans Day held at in Ikeja, Lagos recently. He said Sterling Bank is one of the three lenders selected to disburse funds to SMEs and artisans in Lagos state by the Lagos State Trust Fund (LSTF).
According to Adeleke, the Bank has successfully disbursed funds to SMEs in the state with the next phase focused on artisans, which has a different dynamics because of their large size and high mobility.
He added that Lagos State Ministry of Wealth Creation and Employment had been able to develop a database of the artisans into a compendium in a bid to put them in a virtual market so that anybody that needed the services of an artisan could go online and search for an artisan offering such services in its area.
This would enhance transparency and also access to finance by the artisans as well as make people to know genuine artisans in the state because they have phone and registration numbers.
In a keynote address, Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, said the role of artisans and traders in the pyramid of socio-economic development of the nation was very critical in achieving sustainable growth and overall prosperity of the people.
He said it was in recognition of this fact that his administration had shown commitment towards ensuring that the event was not only sustained eight years after but also designed to be more rewarding.
Ambode gave assurance to traders and artisans in the state that the state government would continue to implement strategies and programmes to promote their businesses and create conducive environment for their operations.
The governor said given the strategic role of the informal sector in the economic development of the state, his administration has opened an online portal designed to facilitate interaction among artisans, customers/end-users, and relevant stakeholders with a view to making them meet up with current realities.
Ambode also presented certificates to 1,000 artisans and traders who were retrained on modular employability programme as part of efforts to scale up the informal sector in the state.
The beneficiaries were drawn from various associations under the auspices of the Lagos State Council of Tradesmen and Artisans (LACOSTA) from 24 trades, which include entrepreneurship, computer appreciation and writing business proposals among others.
Earlier in his address of welcome, Commissioner for Wealth Creation and Employment, Mr. Babatunde Durosinmi- Etti, said since the last edition of the event, Governor Ambode, as requested by LACOSTA, had already approved N12 million annual subvention to the association and increased the number of beneficiaries in 2017 to 1,500 from the 500 that were trained in 2016.
Job creation and employment has been described as one of the crucial factors that can help Nigeria truly exit the economic situation that the country was plunged into, barely two years after the same economy was rebased to emerge the largest in the whole of Africa.
Millions of unemployed youths are roaming the streets especially in the urban areas, which can trigger criminal activities and civil unrest, which is why the Bankâ€™s initiative is a laudable example for other banks to follow suit and help lift Nigeria out of the doldrums of unemployment, poverty and stagnation.