LAPO: Attention shifts on how to fund micro businesses in Africa

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Experts in the business of Microfinance Banks and institutions operations in Africa continent have converged in Benin City, Edo State capital to again brainstorm on better funding strategies for operators in the banking industry sub-sector.

The workshop  is the 3rd International Microfinance Workshop, organized by the Benin City Microfinance Leadership Forum and sponsored by LAPO Institute for Microfinance and Enterprise Development.

Experts at the event include, Godwin Ehigiamusoe, managing director/ chief executive officer, LAPO Microfinance Bank Limited, Nigeria, Rene Azokly, COO & Representative of PAMIGA for West and Central Africa, Kimanthi Mutua, founder/chief executive officer, K-Rep Group, Kenya.

Others are Julius Mcharo, managing director, Victoria Finance Plc, Tanzania, Mohammed Attanda, executive director, Microfinance African Institutions Network (MAIN), Biodun  Adedipe, chief consultant, B.Adedipe Associates limited, El Mansour Magah, director of Investment, PAMIGA, Tony Okpanachi, managing director/ chief executive officer, Development Bank of Nigeria (DBN), Rogers Nwoke, President, National Association of Microfinance Banks (NAMBs), Nigeria among others.

The workshop with the theme,”Funding Strategies for Microfinance Institutions”, focuses on positioning Microfinance banks and Microfinance institutions for funding, working with investors and providing solutions to Microfinance institution funding challenges which has been fueled by the increasing liquidity needs, inadequate capital base, weak corporate governance, ineffective risk management practice among others.

In his welcome address , the managing director of LAPO Microfinance bank, Godwin Ehigiamusoe, noted that stringent conditions attached to access to foreign debts have led to very few institutions as recipients.

Ehigiamusoe, opined that the case of funding for Microfinance especially in Africa, has remained that of “water, water everywhere but not a drop available for many”.

He said to attain desired scale in the operations of Microfinance in the continent, financing of various options and instruments such as affordable debts, equity, bonds and other financial instruments are required.

According to him, the reality is that in the funding space, there is so much money available for Microfinance institutions and banks in Africa. But the challenge is that those funds do come with some conditions and those conditions in some cases are quite tough, but they are not what you cannot address. 

“The essence of the workshop is therefore to first of all create awareness that these funds are available. The second thing is to also create awareness on steps that institutions can take to be able to access those funds.

“We are going to consider some practical example. One example is LAPO. For more than 10 years, we have been able to access funding in the international funding space and we have done it successfully without any issue. We are ready to share the lessons we learnt with others”, he said.

In his remark, Rene Azokly, COO and Representative of PAMIGA for West and Central Africa said capital is a major challenge confronting the sub sector.

Azokly, added that the rate of capitalization which is 15 percent is a great challenge to the operators because if those operating in the lower level cannot cope they will fold up.

He said, the operators need resources, “so that they can cope and also can continue on their noble mission to reduce poverty in our continent”.

“Reduction of poverty in our continent is something that is very encouraging for our industry. Microfinance or increasing Microfinance is a very powerful tool of development, fight against poverty in our different countries”, he added.

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