In a recent interview, 2021 Amujae Leader Tejumola Abisoye explained how the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF) has been supporting young people and small businesses to recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and create youth employment opportunities.
Ms. Abisoye has helped LSETF grow its capabilities to support entrepreneurs, medium, small, and micro enterprises (MSMEs), as well as young people, since taking the helm as CEO and Executive Secretary in 2019.
Speaking with Benjamin Peters, host of the City of Lagos TV Show, Ms. Abisoye explained that the mandate of LSETF is to address youth unemployment in Nigeria’s Lagos State. The fund provides access to finance and additional support to businesses to make sure that they can create jobs, as well as helping young people get the skills to be able to take up available jobs – whether in technology, transport, cooking, tourism, or entertainment, Ms. Abisoye said.
Through partnerships with organizations, businesses, and banks, the fund has supported over 7,000 businesses. In a recent impact assessment, LSETF found that they have created 100,000 direct and indirect jobs in Nigeria’s Lagos State. Ms. Abisoye noted that about 80% of the businesses supported by LSETF’s programs are nano and micro enterprises, many of which have just one or two employees.
In response to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the October 2020 vandalism and looting, the LSETF, along with public and private sector partners, launched the Lagos MSME Recovery Fund, a grant program to “help businesses get back on track.” Recently, LSETF launched a second recovery grant program – which received over 13,000 applications.
LSETF also provides targeted support to women, Ms. Abisoye said, through a program that received over 5,000 applications. She explained:
“We target women specifically because we understand the gap. They don’t have as much and they’re not as aggressive, so we want to encourage them to access funding. They pay back better, they have higher impact than the traditional male business. We recognize this and have been providing support specifically to women-run enterprises.”
The fund also supports women and girls who have received training for specific skills “by providing access to finance for them to go and make use of that skill,” Ms. Abisoye said.
Ms. Abisoye told Mr. Peters that she is looking forward to doing “much more” with the young people of Lagos to solve the issue of youth unemployment and reduce insecurity in the state.
Watch the full interview here.