Lagos, Nigeria, April 28, 2021— To help expand banking services to low-income populations in sub-Saharan Africa, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) today announced a partnership with the Lift Above Poverty Organization (LAPO), which is seeking to expand its microfinance business to some of the continent's less developed economies and fragile states. IFC is a member of the World Bank Group.
Under the partnership, IFC will conduct market analysis of several African countries, including fragile states, and provide advisory support to LAPO to help it expand its microfinance business beyond Nigeria and Sierra Leone, where it currently operates with more than 495 branches, serving over 800,000 customers.
LAPO's planned microfinance expansion will help boost financial inclusion and increase lending to individuals and micro and small businesses in the region, stimulating economic activity. The expansion will specifically target women borrowers, low-income earners, and those in rural areas.
"Through IFC's advisory support, we will expand our capacity to build greater financial inclusion among a rural, low-income client base in sub-Saharan Africa. IFC's advisory will also help us deepen our efforts to reach more women-owned micro enterprises, which currently represent about 70 percent of clients in our existing microfinance operations," Dr. Godwin Ehigiamusoe, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, LAPO said.
"IFC's support to LAPO is part of our commitment to strengthen economic development in sub-Saharan Africa, support micro enterprises, and reduce poverty," said Kevin Njiraini, IFC's Regional Director, Southern Africa and Nigeria. "This project marks a significant milestone in the development of microfinance in Africa, particularly as countries continue to suffer the severe effects of the COVID-19 pandemic."
"LAPO's existing microfinance businesses primarily target women and the financially excluded. IFC's support will help LAPO to extend to more women-led businesses in the region and contribute to the development of economic opportunities," said Emmanuel Nyirinkindi, IFC's Director for Transaction Advisory Services.
Supporting financial inclusion is an important part of IFC's strategy in Africa to boost private sector growth and job creation. Individuals and businesses, in fragile and conflict-affected situations especially, struggle to access loans and other banking services because of underdeveloped domestic financial sectors.
IFC—a member of the World Bank Group—is the largest global development institution focused on the private sector in emerging markets. We work in more than 100 countries, using our capital, expertise, and influence to create markets and opportunities in developing countries. In fiscal year 2020, we invested $22 billion in private companies and financial institutions in developing countries, leveraging the power of the private sector to end extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity. For more information, visit www.ifc.org.
LAPO was established as a non-for-profit organization (NGO) in 1987 in Benin City, Nigeria and over time has diversified into a variety of subsidiaries that are for-profit and non-for-profit. LAPO main areas of operation are: (i) microfinance; (ii) micro leasing; (iii) health/medical Services; (iv) micro insurance; (v) resource/training Institute; and (vi) social empowerment. It currently operates two for-profit Microfinance Banks in Nigeria and Sierra Leone with 495 branches and over 800k customers. For more information, visit https://lapo-ngo.org/