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Brands We Love: LAPO Microfinance Bank

 

LAPO Microfinance Bank is one of Nigeria’s most widely known and patronized microfinance banks. Self-described as a ‘pro-poor financial institution, it caters to segments of the public (individuals and businesses) that have been underserved by other mainstream banks.


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It’s headquartered in Benin City and has well over 300 branches situated in various states. These locations are staffed by a total of almost 6,000 workers. Collectively, they have served over 2 million customers, providing them with savings accounts and loans of various sorts.

LAPO Microfinance Bank is the successor to an NGO, the Lift Above Poverty Organization (LAPO), which was established in 1987 by Dr Godwin Ehigiamusoe. It was set up to empower low-income Nigerians by delivering financial services to them.

In 2010, LAPO secured the approval of the CBN to operate as a state microfinance bank. And in 2012, it received a license to carry out microfinance banking activities in the country. In the years that followed, the bank has expanded rapidly and is now a recognized leader in its space.

Today, LAPO Microfinance Bank boasts an asset base exceeding ₦68 billion, and shareholder funds worth more than ₦9 billion. In 2013, it crossed the $1 billion mark for cumulative loan disbursements.

Products available from LAPO Microfinance Bank range from SME, education and asset loans, to individual and voluntary savings, as well as term deposits. The variety of products and services on offer are designed to meet the needs of specific kinds of customers.


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LAPO’s SME Loan is targeted at Small and Medium Scale businesses. Loans of up to ₦5 million are disbursed to SMEs that meet the bank’s criteria, terms and conditions, and are expected to be repaid within 12 months from the time they are granted. No collateral is needed, and the bank says its repayment structure is flexible.

There’s also the Agric Loan, which may be provided to farmers and agricultural cooperatives. Successful loan applicants can receive anywhere between ₦50,000 and ₦500,000, depending on what they have requested, and their ability to repay.

Existing clients of the bank who want to acquire assets can get the funding they need to do this from it. LAPO helps to finance the purchase of such household assets as generators, grinding machines, and refrigerators, and vehicles that may be used for commercial transportation.

Other loans on offer from LAPO include Regular Loans (for self-selected groups such as unions), Education Loans (for primary and secondary school tuition), and Public Sector Loans (personal loans granted through payroll lending to civil servants).

LAPO Microfinance Bank has a variety of savings account products, each built for a specific kind of account holder. They include savings-plan Savings, My-Pikin Savings (a child-focused savings account that comes with life insurance), Festival Savings (for festive season expenses), Voluntary Savings, and Term Deposits (a high-interest account).

LAPO says it’s working to reach the underbanked—which partly explains why many of their branches are located in semi-urban and rural areas. They also specifically target women, who make up a greater percentage of the financially underserved in Nigeria.

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Ikenna Nwachukwu holds a bachelor's degree in Economics from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He loves to look at the world through multiple lenses- economic, political, religious and philosophical- and to write about what he observes in a witty, yet reflective style.

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