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Baobab MFB nominated for ‘MSME Microfinance Bank of the Year’ at BAFI Awards

Baobab Nigeria, a microfinancing and financial services provider, has been nominated for the coveted ‘MSME Microfinance Bank of the Year Award” at the forthcoming 9th annual edition of BusinessDay’s Banks’ and Other Financial Institutions (BAFI) Awards.

The awards will be held on Saturday, November 13, 2021, at the Lagos, Continental Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos.

The BAFI Awards are adjudged Nigeria’s most rigorous, prestigious, and transparent awards system for the financial services sector. Each year, over 120 companies in the financial services sector and affiliated segments like financial technology vie for the prestigious recognition that the awards confer.

Analysts in the BusinessDay Research and Intelligence Unit (BRIU) spend several weeks reviewing entries using transparent criteria to pick the finalists. Their names and scores are then passed on to an independent Awards Review Committee, whose members select the winners. These will be announced at the Awards ceremony.

Speaking on the nomination, Kazeem Olanrenwaju, managing director and CEO of Baobab Nigeria, said that “our goal is to become the number one microfinance bank in Nigeria and Africa. This is why we are constantly building our capacity, technology, and products to provide relevant and unique financial solutions for micro and SME businesses.”

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Olanrewaju noted that in the aftermath of the pandemic’s shock, it has taken the visionary leadership of the bank and the dedication of its exceptional people to deliver the successes for which Baobab Nigeria is now being recognised.

“Indeed, the BAFI Awards, having been established as the benchmark of distinction for institutions in the financial services sector, I have the assurance that this selection is well deserved.”

According to the nomination letter sent to Baobab Nigeria, a couple of things make it stand out from the competition.

First is that it plants its flag where its customers are. Baobab is not known for jostling for square footage in expensive locations on the high streets. Rather, its branches are located where the bustling MSME businesses and markets are so as to serve them better.

Second, Baobab’s mantra of financial inclusion for all is based on faithfulness to the principles of non-interest banking. Customer feedback received points to the bank’s “fervently ethical, almost philosophical, approach to banking growth businesses which chimes well with the original founding principles of micro-lending.”

A third factor is the microfinance bank’s robust risk management, which permeates how it gives out credit. The letter noted that “Baobab’s KYC process goes beyond onboarding to a constant evaluation of customers to determine their fitness for bigger loans and longer tenors.” This referred to Baobab’s implementation of a credit reputation system for borrowers without the costly screening fees of a credit bureau.

Fourth, Baobab was recognised for its investment in alternative channels – online, offline, USSD codes, other banks – which has freed customers to transact from different locations, and devices.

Baobab Nigeria currently has 25 branches across seven states of the country. It is one of only eight microfinance banks licensed to operate across Nigeria. Presently, Baobab Nigeria makes loan disbursements to around 5,000 customers every month averaging N3 billion to N3.5 billion per month. In total, it approves loans of about N40 billion annually.

Baobab Nigeria is part of Groupe Baobab, a global network headquartered in Paris, France, which serves 1.1 million customers, through 1,215 branches and over 3,000 employees across Africa and China.

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