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Polaris Bank, LSETF launch N1bn fund to empower artisans in Lagos.

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Polaris Bank and the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF) have partnered to provide N1 billion fund to artisans operating in the state.

Segun Opeke, the bank’s executive director, Lagos Business, said this at a joint media launch of the artisans’ funds on Thursday, May 19, 2022.

Opeke explained that the partnership with LSETF is aimed at providing the much-needed funding to create wealth and empower artisans and players within the MSME space in Lagos state who have been in business operation for a minimum of one year.

He further noted that Polaris Bank and LSETF would provide the fund in equal of N500 million each.

The executive director encouraged artisans in the state to take advantage of the facility.

In her presentation at the signing off ceremony, Tejumola Abisoye, executive secretary, LSETF, said, “LSETF working with the Lagos state Council of Tradesmen and Artisans and the Ministry of Wealth Creation and Employment is committed to making an impact by ensuring it creates access to finance and sustainable job opportunities for artisans in Lagos state”.

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“We are happy to partner with Polaris Bank in ensuring that this mandate is achieved, and we know that through this fund, thousands of artisan businesses across the state can become sustainable. At LSETF, we are open to more strategic partnerships to reduce unemployment by building the capacity and improving the productivity of Lagos residents.

“We are working with Polaris Bank to grant this loan at a single digit of 9.5% per annum. This is extremely important because we want it to be clear from day one that it is affordable. We still think it is the most affordable in the market that you can have access to at the moment.”

Explaining the process of accessing the artisans’ funds, Adebimpe Ihekuna, group head, products and market, Polaris Bank, said the scheme is highly subsidised at less than 1% flat per month and artisans who wish to take advantage of the facility.

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Applicants are expected to provide proof of verifiable business location with evidence of tenancy and domiciliation of business account to Polaris Bank. 

They are also to provide a business plan, among other terms throughout the tenor of the facility.

Ihekuna added that the scheme offers up to N5m for the MSMEs to be able to purchase working equipment “so that even as a cobbler, vulcanizer, a barbing or hairdressing salon owner or whatever business you do, you can create value which also becomes a platform to continue to provide more employment opportunities for the youth”.

On her part, Omolara Adewumi, director of programs, LSETF, expressed appreciation to Polaris Bank for the collaboration and the gesture of coming on board as a financial partner. 

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Adewumi noted the role MSMEs play in creating jobs and reducing poverty.

“I believe the time for this kind of matching funds, which focuses mainly on artisans in Lagos state is now and we know that this collaboration will be a successful one,” she said.

Lagos State’s informal economy, under which artisans are categorised, is said to employ about 5.5 million people — about three-quarters of the State’s 7.5 million labour force – out of the country’s nearly 200 million people. The figure (5.5m in Lagos alone) represents over 80 per cent of the population working in the informal sector, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Despite its evident potential, the informal economy is often faced with difficulties, one of which is the lack of access to finance.

Prospective applicants are encouraged to visit any Polaris Bank branch, liaison offices of LSETF to apply or visit https://apply.LSETF.ng/artsignup.

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