LAPO Microfinance Bank’s chairman, Godwin Ehigiamusoe, has called for empowerment of people at the grassroots in order to address the issue of poverty in the country.
According to him, Microfinance is a very strong strategy for meaningful development, of course poverty alleviation.
Ehigiamusoe said this after he was conferred an honorary fellowship award by the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) at the weekend in Lagos.
“It is very clear that it is a recognition of Microfinance banks. Before, it was my personal recognition because 30 years ago, we believed that you could take banking from the glass house and take banking to the street. That we have successfully done. I think it’s more for that reason this award has come to me. It’s also important that the award could be in recognition of an accomplishment but it is more of a motivation to do more.”
“I strongly believe that by empowering the people at the bottom of the society, there is still so much to be done. I hope that I will continue to commit myself to that,” he said.
“What it means is that if you want to develop any society, you must pay attention to, and empower the large number of that society at the bottom. I think for a very long time we might not have done that. But if we want to move forward and meaningfully address the issue of poverty, we must empower those people to enhance their income earning capability. Once they do that they are likely going to enhance the condition of living for members of their household.
Ehigiamusoe said Microfinance bank ordinarily is called poverty lending, which is a lending arrangement that supports people who are in poverty.
“It is often said that the harder the situation is, the more Microfinance should be provided to enhance the capacity of the poor people to be able to work out of poverty. The emphasis should be that we do everything in terms of capacity for Microfinance banks, in terms of resources for them to deliver services promptly to people at the bottom end who own micro and small businesses,” LAPO founder said.
On the issues of LAPO diversifying to a commercial, he said, “I do not think that is our expectation. We will continue to serve the ordinary people, no matter how big we are. If you talk about shareholders’ funds or recapitalisation, we are eminently qualified to become a commercial bank but we do not want to be.”
The award was conferred on deserving members who have meritoriously distinguished themselves whilst making notable contributions to the success of the Institute, their respective organizations, the banking industry and the economy at large, according to Ken Opara, president/Chairman of Council, CIBN.