Osun State Governor, Rauf Aregbesola, has said his administration has disbursed N4.5billion to 27,352 beneficiaries to boost Small and Medium Enterprises (SME).
He said it was done under the combined scheme sponsored by the state government of Osun and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), tagged: Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Fund (CBN-MSME Development Fund) to boost the economy of the state.
He spoke in Lagos during the graduation ceremony of 15 trainees of the Osun Youth Empowerment Scheme (OYES) Programme under the Ijinle Project.
The governor said government established Osun Micro-credit Agency to effectively and efficiently render micro credit delivery services to all small scale business operators.
The sectors covered in the disbursement of the micro-credit include, commerce, agriculture, manufacturing, education, health, hotel and hospitality and other businesses operated by the artisans; and the beneficiaries of the soft loans are spread across the local government areas of the state.
On Ijinle, Aregbesola said it was a social enterprise project geared towards preserving vintage Yoruba tailoring.
At the ceremony were the Governor-elect Adegboyega Oyetola, industrialist and Chairman of Federal Mortgage Bank, Mr. Adewale Adeeyo, top government functionaries from Osun State, a one-time Lagos State Commissioner for Finance, Mr. Wale Edun, Commandant ,OYES, Col. Eniibukun Oyewole (rtd) and the Coordinator of Ijinle project, Miss Muinat Atunise.
Aregbesola said the beneficiaries of the programme were carefully tutored to master the craft by Mr. Kabir Durojaiye, a veteran who has mastered the craft of bespoke vintage wears for over 30 years and whose clients are the crème-de-la-crème of Yoruba elite all over Nigeria.
He said all the successful trainees would be settled in a production cluster in Osun with a business development presence in Lagos .
To tackle growing youth population challenges, the governor said the state undertook agricultural initiatives to boost employment and the economy.
One of these is the revolving volunteers scheme, OYES does which deployed holistic entrepreneurial and life skills into a swathe of unemployed youths, all with the strategic intention of achieving lasting empowerment for its beneficiaries.
For the past eight years, Aregbesola said OYES created a healthy flow into the state empowering succeeding batches of 20,000 unemployed youths to acquire different means of livelihoods.
The efforts, he noted, were repaid with an outpouring of energy and initiative sufficient to raise incomes and improve food security.
He said Osun has one of the lowest youth unemployment rates in the country, adding that efforts are made to encourage graduates to continue learning and tap on resources to upgrade their skills .
According to him, because of the government focus on youth development, Osun now has one of the lowest rate of youth unemployment in Nigeria.
Besides, this, he said the state Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has risen to the seventh position nationally.