The Dangote Foundation yesterday disbursed N400 million micro grants to 40,000 indigent women in Lagos State to cushion the effect of the economic downturn.
It is part of the grassroots poverty alleviation strategy of the Foundation created by Africa’s richest man, Alhaji Aliko Dangote in 1993.
The Foundation is spending N10 billion on the project, six states have so far benefited.
The empowerment programme, meant to complement the efforts of the government at all levels, is targeted at vulnerable women and youths, with a one-off N10, 000 cash transfer to boost household income generation.
Already, 256,500 women in Kano, Jigawa, Kogi, Adamawa, Borno, and Yobe have benefited from the scheme that is expected to go round the 774 local government areas nationwide.
The beneficiaries in Lagos are also to be given hand held mobile devices through Airtel telecommunication; disbursement is via electronic transfer.
The programme, according to Dangote, is to cover at least 1000 women in each of the 774 local governments.
The number of beneficiaries in Lagos has been doubled in each local government in order to reach a larger population of women.
“We have chosen to partner with states to support women because in Nigeria, as in other developing countries, they bear the burden of poverty. And it is through their economic activities from the home, the market place or the farmlands that they keep the family, the community going and meeting basic needs.
“Our research at Dangote Foundation shows that just a little push can help establish, sustain or grow several types of economic activities by our women. We believe these small grants will improve the women’s businesses and the wellbeing of their families and communities.
“This is one of the goals of Dangote Foundation’s Community Development Services”, he said.
Lagos State Governor Akinwunmi Ambode urged other wealthy Nigerians to emulate Dangote, saying: “Alhaji Dangote’s decision to share his wealth with the people is an indication of his love for the people. He has decided to support our programme of regeneration in Lagos state, we are grateful to Dangote Foundation.”
“This empowerment programme will cover all deserving in the 20 local governments and 37 LCDAs in the state. We will ensure that nobody is denied this grant not minding the political or religious leaning. We will continue to give the required environment to make business thrive in Lagos.”
Commissioner for Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation (WAPA) Mrs. Lola Akande said the 16 Skills Acquisition Centres established by the government are helping in reducing poverty, particularly among women.
“The Dangote Micro grant scheme is to boost household income generation of disadvantaged women in Lagos State so as to reduce vulnerability and meet their immediate needs in order to put it into useful ventures so that they could be self-reliant”.