LAPO Microfinance Bank, a subsidiary of the Lift Above Poverty Organisation (LAPO), has disbursed N89.6 billion as loan from January to August 2017 via 447 branches in 29 states and the Federal Capital Territory, ABUJA, as part of effort to grow micro and small businesses in the country.
Collectively, institutions in the LAPO system disbursed over N96.1 billion to small and micro enterprises during the period and boasts of 3,147, 722 clients with a target of 5,036,355.20 clients by 2019.
Speaking at the 24th Annual Lapo Development Forum in Lagos, Founder, Mr. Godwin Ehigiamusoe, said that the bank have for many years focused on micro and small enterprises but for the past two years it initiated a project to provide loan for SMEs, saying: “We do realize that in Nigeria our commercial banks are great and they have very effective way of mobilizing deposit even from the market women but the problem is that when you look at their lending, they do not lend to these people.
“Therefore you have a huge gap of a segment called the missing middle, whose need at times are considered too small and not cost effective for commercial banks to support and their need, for the microfinance banks, is considered too big.
“If you look at the definition the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, gives to micro loan, it is a loan below 500, 000 and there are SMEs that would need N1million, N3million or N5million the banks would not want to touch and therefore we started getting involved in that, the money we have put in there is increasingly huge and we hope to do more for the SMEs in the coming year. We are committed to supporting agriculture by engaging farmers and providing loan,” he stated.
According to him a large segment of the Nigerian population operates in the informal sector where a sizable number of SMEs also operates, adding that Nigerians can enjoy good life by being productive.
He stated further: “They should be able to galvanise resources to create wealth that can expand the economy and provide for the teeming population of the poor. “There are several efforts on different fronts by the federal and state governments to strengthen SMEs. The Bank of Industry, Bank of Agriculture and Export Grant are some leading institutions in the ongoing efforts to leverage on the potentials of SMEs.