In a bid to minimise the impact of COVID-19 outbreak on Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) and rebuild the state, the Lagos State Government, through the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF), has set aside N5 billion for financial support. Speaking at the official launch of the Lagos Economic Acceleration Programme (LEAP), a post- COVID-19 recovery support programme for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in Lagos, yesterday, Executive Secretary of LSETF, Mrs. Tejumola Abisoye, explained that the Governor Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu-led government was moved by the socio-economic damage caused by the pandemic and its effect on businesses, irrespective of size, structure and operations.
She said that the intervention was aimed at minimising the impact of the pandemic by providing access to affordable finance at single-digit interest rate to MSMEs, thereby saving existing businesses, jobs, and also creating new job opportunities. According to her, the financial support will be allocated to education, tourism, hospitality, entertainment and culture, agriculture and agribusiness, existing beneficiaries’ loan renewals and renewable energy and specifically Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG).
The executive secretary noted that these sectors suffered downturn that requires intervention. Abisoye explained that the responsibility of the Lagos State Government was to intervene and provide measures to help cushion the distressing effect of the pandemic. She described the LSETF-LEAP as a sectorspecific intervention programme aimed at supporting businesses, driving growth, and enabling job creation opportunities across targeted sectors that have been severely affected by the pandemic, adding that the programme would provide access to affordable finance at a singledigit interest rate, enhance capacity building, access to market linkages and leverage business expansion opportunities for its beneficiaries.
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 within the Lagos economy. “The Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS)-SMEDAN National Survey Report for 2017 shows that the Nigerian MSMEs contributes about 49.78 per cent of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product and about 76.5 per cent of employment for the labour force.
The Q2 report on employment by the NBS also revealed that the unemployment rate increased from 23.1 per cent (Q3 2018) to 27.1 per cent Q2, 2020. “A post-COVID-19 lockdown report on the effect of the pandemic on MSMEs by FATE Foundation showed that almost 95 per cent of MSMEs were severely affected by the restriction of movement and about 82 per cent of these businesses are most likely to lay off staff. “These data are not only alarming, but stir 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.”