International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private-sector investment arm of the World Bank, has backed one of the top microfinance companies in Nigeria with $8 million in debt finance.
IFC has provided a three-year, senior secured loan of up to $8 million denominated in Nigerian Naira to LAPO Microfinance Bank. The loan is aimed at supporting micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) that have been hurt by the coronavirus pandemic.
LAPO was established as a non-profit organization (LAPO NGO) in 1987 in Benin City, Nigeria. Over time, it has diversified into a variety of subsidiaries that are for-profit and not-for-profit.
In 2010, LAPO Microfinance Bank obtained approval from the Central Bank of Nigeria to operate a regulated microlending institution. It was re-licensed as a national microfinance bank in 2012 in line with the new microlending banking model introduced in the country a decade ago.
LAPO MFB is currently Nigeria’s largest microfinance institution, with more than 4 million customers and a market share of 13% of the total microfinance industry loans as of December 2020.
Its activities are strategically targeted at MSMEs, particularly women micro enterprise owners, who are served on a group basis. LAPO MFB is largely owned by LAPO NGO and Godwin Ehigiamusoe, the founder and former managing director.
LAPO MFB has an extensive distribution network in Nigeria comprising over 535 branches across 34 states in the country. It also deploys its products and services via 1,500 agents and 200 thrift collection officers besides its call centre. It also offers mobile banking and other digital banking products.