The International Finance Corporation, a member of the World Bank Group, on Monday deepened further the nation’s microfinance liquidity with the signing of a N2billion partnership agreement with LAPO Microfinance Bank Ltd.
The funding agreement will enable the Edo-based microfinance bank to pilot and roll out agent banking that will increase low-income customers, small-scale entrepreneurs and rural communities access to financial services.
Under the financial inclusion agreement, IFC would provide N2 billion (or 10 million dollars) loan to support LAPO Microfiance Bank’s lending to micro-entrepreneurs.
According to microfinance stakeholders, the N2 billion supports to LAPO Microfinance Bank remains the largest IFC investment in a microfinance institution in Sub-Saharan Africa.
As the first local microfinance organization to successfully transform into a fully regulated national microfinance bank, LAPO Microfinance Bank is seen as championing vibrancy in the Nigerian microfinance sector.
An analysis of LAPO Microfinance Bank client base showed that it leapt to more than two million from 700,000 in 2012, across 28 states.
The microfinance bank also projects to increase its client base to about five million by 2017.
IFC earlier in 2012 supported LAPO Microfinance Bank expansion and transformation programme with N800 million loan.
The Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of LAPO Microfinance Bank, Godwin Ehigiamusoe, said the “bank has remained committed to its goal of economic empowerment through access to finance.
“We are taking further steps to increase our reach to more low-income earners and more micro, small and medium enterprises.
“IFC’s long term support has helped us and we hope this new project will lead to enhanced financial access for more financially excluded Nigerians,” he said.
The IFC’s Country Manager for Nigeria, Eme Lore, said, “one of IFC’s core objectives is to promote inclusive finance that benefits the small-scale business sector, an engine of inclusive growth and job creation.
“Our relationship with LAPO Microfinance Bank will help us reach out to the low income people in Nigeria to improve financial inclusion and help grow the economy.”
IFC is a leading investor in microfinance in Sub-Saharan Africa, with a fast-growing, well-performing portfolio of equity, debt and advisory projects.
IFC’s portfolio includes 25 microfinance institutions across 13 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, which have reached over 2.6 million borrowers and 12.7 million depositors among microenterprises and low-income households.