Paga, Nigeria’s pioneering payments and financial services company, is collaborating with the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF) to promote entrepreneurship and employment growth and deliver financial services across the state.
The Lagos State Employment Trust Fund is a N25-billion fund to empower Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and improve skills. Specifically, the scheme is designed to help Lagos residents grow and scale their MSMEs or acquire skills to get better jobs. The fund expects to create 300,000 direct and 600,000 indirect jobs within three years by supporting at least 100,000 MSMEs.
Speaking on the collaboration with Paga, Akintunde Oyebode, executive secretary, LSETF, said financial inclusion is a big area they are interested in and Paga is helping Lagos State achieve its mandate by supporting agents financially.
“For LSETF and Paga, we are beginning with this pilot; we are definitely convinced that we want this to be a long-lasting relationship,”
“We want to move the current number of people currently accessing the Fund to over 1,000 agents or more. This solves a lot of problems. First is the fact that we give the Paga agents money and they hire more people. Second, when you hire more people, your business grows and you take financial services down to places where people could not access them. Thirdly, we are glad the Paga agents are empowering more women. The opportunity is tremendous and we have only just begun,” he said.
Ekanem, one of the Paga agent recipients of LSETF loans, spoke about the challenges he previously faced in obtaining funding and the support LSETF and Paga had given him.
“With this programme, many lives will be touched and the jobs will be increased. I have started employing people because of this fund and also opened a new branch where other people will benefit from. It is a good development and we appreciate Paga and LSETF,” Ekanem said.
In line with its mission to provide financial access to all Nigerians, Paga, with 11,000 local agents, has the largest and most active network of financial access points in Nigeria. These agents are small entrepreneurs who offer Paga services within their grocery stores, boutiques, pharmacies, etc. They enable customers to send money to any bank account in Nigeria instantly, or to anyone using their phone number. The recipient picks up the funds at another Paga agent or at the ATM of 10 participating banks (without a card). Customers can also withdraw money from their bank accounts and pay their utility and household bills at Paga agents.
Tayo Oviosu, founder and CEO of Paga, noted the importance of supporting Paga agents.
“At Paga, we are delighted to support entrepreneurs providing financial services in their communities. Paga is for all Nigerians and our goal is to deliver financial services to the mass market and bring convenient payments to everyone. We believe that the support offered by Lagos State Employment Trust Fund has the potential to transform the success of small businesses and create employment in Lagos State,” Oviosu said.
“Already, we estimate that our over 3,000 agents in Lagos employ at least 1,500 people. We look forward to working more with Lagos State to grow our agent base, create jobs for Lagosians, and drive financial inclusion. We see these types of public-private collaboration as the great examples for other states to emulate,” he said.