First Bank of Nigeria Limited, Nigeria's premier and leading financial inclusion services provider, has announced its partnership with Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF) in a matching fund scheme. The scheme aims to cushion the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on low-cost private schools by ensuring lending at an attractive interest rate.
The programme will provide access to finance where participating schools can each be availed up to N5 million as well as capacity development, business and financial advisory. There will be monitoring and evaluation to ensure prompt loan repayment.
To enjoy this funding opportunity, applications will be submitted via the LSETF portal for screening while successful applicants will be passed on to FirstBank for the loan appraisal and disbursement process. The loan is meant for working capital and asset finance to enable schools resuscitate their practice, acquire needed materials, upgrade their facilities, as well as pay staff salaries in order to bounce back, especially after the lockdown.
This scheme promotes entrepreneurship in Lagos State which is in tandem with the vision of LSETF to create employment and entrepreneurship opportunities for Lagos residents. It has provisions for Micro Enterprises (ME) and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) across all the 57 LCDAs in the 20 LGAs in Lagos State.
Sanwo-Olu, the Executive Governor of Lagos State said the N5 billion Education Loan Programme was a precursor to many more human development sector-specific support programmes that would be unveiled by the LSETF on behalf of the State Government next month.
The Governor explained that the intervention was necessary, given the importance of education to building human capital. He said his administration took education as critical building 21st century economy and realising objectives set out in the T.H.E.M.E.S. agenda.
The beneficiaries, Sanwo-Olu said, will have access to single-digit loan facilities to fund the provision of the amenities and services needed to aid learning.
He said: "It is thus heart-warming to have First Bank of Nigeria electing to be our exemplary partner for this intervention. With their support, players in the education sector would be getting the financial support they need to boost learning at a single-digit interest rate.
"I also commend the Board of LSETF and the management for this significant accomplishment. They have helped the Lagos State Government build an institution that has engendered public trust and elevated the hope of small businesses and young people, irrespective of challenges faced."
According to Dr. Adesola Adeduntan, Chief Executive Officer, First Bank of Nigeria Limited, "at FirstBank we recognise the indelible role played by the education sector in the growth of any economy and this underscores our partnership with Lagos State Government for continuous development of the education services in Lagos State and the nation as a whole. The commitment by the Lagos State Government - including this partnership - to enable schools is quite commendable as this will mitigate the challenges caused by the lockdown on the education sector following the COVID-19 pandemic."
"With the single-digit funding targeted at about 2,000 low-cost private schools in the State, we are delighted at this opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to the development of education in Lagos State, thereby contributing our quota to further the mandate of the Lagos State Government - in partnership with LSETF - on economic growth, enhanced opportunities for employment and bridging societal gaps in education," he concluded.
Commenting on the Eduloan programme, Mrs Bola Adesola, Chairperson, Board of Trustees, Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF) stated that; "According to the NESG the Education Sector remains a growth area for job creation and a report on job creation by the NBS states that the Education Sector is one of the top 5 sectors that created over 59m jobs in 2019. This fact is buttressed by the data collected by LSETF in previous loan programmes. The objective of the LSETF-FirstEdu loan is to create employment, improve the quality of education for our youth by providing access to affordable finance to low-cost private schools and vocational training centres.
"We are confident that this intervention fund, which is complemented by our free professional and institutional support structures, will ensure that the education ecosystem in Lagos State will witness an improvement in the overall learning outcomes for our children, while positively impacting on the Lagos local economy through wealth and job creation.," she stated.
Only recently, FirstBank partnered with the Lagos State government, Robert & John, IBM and Curious Learning with a resolve to enable the education of 1 million Nigerian students through innovative eLearning solutions that will drive sustainable efforts towards improving education for all. As part of the partnership, the Bank donated 20,000 units of e-learning devices to the Lagos State government.
These partnerships reinforce FirstBank's "You First" brand promise of putting not just its customers first but the economy of its host communities.
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