LAPO Microfinance Bank Limited, a leading microfinance institution in Africa, has disbursed a cumulative of N1.4 trillion micro credits to low income earners across the country, helping to energize and stimulate the economy for greater prosperity.
The low income people include petty traders, small-holder farmers and small businesses.
This comes as the bank on Friday commissioned the first building to be owned by LAPO Microfinance Bank in its thirteen years of existence.
In 2010, Lift Above Poverty Organization (LAPO) set up LAPO Microfinance Bank. In 2012, it became a national microfinance bank and currently has 536 branches in 34 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja.
“It was to address the three dimensions of poverty namely; material deprivation with credit; poor health with health awareness and social exclusion with social empowerment programmes,” Osaretin Domuren, Chairman of LAPO said at the official commissioning of the bank’s new head office building in Lagos.
The building provides accommodation for the various units of the bank as well as facilities that enhance staff welfare and productivity. These include a well-equipped creche for nursing mothers, library, gym and a learning centre.
For us it is a milestone and also more important is to provide a very conducive environment for the staff. I know that moving forward, it’s a big challenge for us. We need everything first of all to ensure that everybody is able to enhance his or her peace or her productivity.
Going forward, we have been doing this for more than 30 years and here we are and we still believe that if we could have moved all that from that time to where we are today, there are greater heights for us to achieve in the years to come.
Looking at the value and what eventually has come out of it, yes it is worth it. Our key performance indicator remains what is the number of ordinary people who we are reaching with a range of financial services. What is the volume of loan that we are delivering to these people? You could also begin to look at the area of profitability. We need some level of profitability to be able to invest in institutional development and of course to meet the expectations of the shareholders.
What is important is the diversity of our products. We have a range of products that meet the needs of farmers. We have products that address the need to enhance clean energy lending. We have products on education. We will continue to do so efficiently through adequate digitalisation of our products, services and delivery channels.
Cynthia Ikponmwosa, managingdirector/CEO LAPO MfB, said, “Today is a very momentous day for us because we just commissioned our new building. For LAPO Microfinance Bank, this is significant because as one of the leaders in the sector, or pioneers in the sector, by this building it is a statement to the fact that we are to stay and will be here for a very long time.
She said the building is significant because people can now put a face to the name that they have been hearing and also to tell people that by this structure LAPO Microfinance bank has many more years ahead. “This is posterity starting and we are looking forward to doing more.
“So far we have done over a trillion naira loan to households of low income earners and micro, small and medium enterprises, and we still focus on a niche which is women although we have men. Supporting female businesses and female entrepreneurs is still important.
“We lend, but we also receive deposits. So, for people who are very sceptical about the microfinance sector, this edifice speaks to the fact that we receive deposits. We are licensed as a deposit-taking Microfinance bank. To be candid, we have not been able to do much because of the confidence issue and the perception about the sector.
“We want to tell people that we take deposits. We will be reaching out to more people and we will be promoting that side of us.
For the future what we look forward to is increasing our customer deposit. We want to have more transactions in the MFBs and we are hoping that our digital channels will be able to help us do that,” she said.
Dorcas Thorpe, head corporate planning department, LAPO, said, “this for us is a huge milestone. LAPO has been around for over 30 years. So it is about time. We could not have done this if not for our partners, staff and we really appreciate everyone who has been part of this especially the contractors and everyone who supported this.
“We started the building about 2018 and covid-19 year had impact on the project plan but I will say all together three years.
“For the brand, I think the visibility we want is beyond just the target market or audience, it’s also for anybody to know that LAPO is here for you, not just for loans as people would associate LAPO with but for any financial services – loans, savings, insurance and the likes,” she said.