The World Bank, through its partner the International Finance Corporation (IFC), is assisting Lift Beyond Poverty Organisation (LAPO) in expanding its microfinance sector beyond Nigeria and Sierra Leone, where it currently operates with over 495 branches servicing over 800,000 clients.
LAPO’s proposed microfinance extension would help expand financial inclusion and lending to individuals, micro and small enterprises, and small businesses in the area, thus boosting economic development.
The extension would directly target female borrowers, people with low incomes, and those living in rural areas.
The founder and chief executive officer, LAPO, Dr Godwin Ehigiamusoe said, “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 per cent of clients in our existing microfinance operations.”
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According to IFC’s regional director, Southern Africa and Nigeria, Kevin Njirani, “IFC’s support to LAPO is part of our commitment to strengthen economic development in sub-Saharan Africa, support micro-enterprises, and reduce poverty. This project marks a significant milestone in the development of microfinance in Africa, particularly as countries continue to suffer severe effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“LAPO’s current microfinance companies mostly serve women and the financially disadvantaged.
“IFC’s funding for LAPO would reach more women in the region and lead to the growth of economic opportunities,” said IFC’s Transaction Advisory Services head.
Supporting financial inclusion is an essential component of the IFC’s Africa policy to boost private sector growth and employment development.
Individuals and companies, especially those in vulnerable and conflict-affected areas, face difficulties in obtaining loans and other financial services due to underdeveloped banking systems.