The Bank of Industry (BoI) has devoted N4.23 billion to the underserved and under-banked micro entrepreneurs at the bottom of the pyramid through 23 microfinance banks (MFBs).
Eleven of the 23 MFBs have already disbursed N1.1 billion, while three newly recruited MFBs have been handed the sum of N2 billion for on-lending. Nine other MFBs have likewise been approved to disburse N1.13 billion to micro entrepreneurs, the bank said weekend.
Announcing the presentation of cheques to LAPO MFB, Fortis MFB and Lotus MFB weekend in Lagos, Waheed Olagunju, acting managing director/CEO of BoI, said project identification will be based on the comparative advantages of various states of the federation, including the Federal Capital Territory.
While handing over the cheques for N1 billion to LAPO MFB, N500 million to Fortis MFB and N500 billion to Lotus Capital Limited, Olagunju said activities or industries to be financed include, but not limited to, value addition in sectors like agriculture, light manufacturing, food products (snacks, bakeries, etc) beverages, solid minerals, services and artisanal activities such as wood and metal works, tailoring, and shoe-making, among others.
“The Bottom of the Pyramid’ programme is essentially aimed at poverty reduction through job and wealth creation focusing on the rural micro-enterprise operators with a view to extending financial inclusion to them,” Olagunju said.
He stated the development partners (MFBs)that are involved in the ‘Bottom of the Pyramid’ scheme are tested and trusted, given that their non-performing loan ratios are at single-digit rates, adding that they also have extensive coverage across the country.
He stated that the scheme aligns with the employment and wealth creation objectives of the National Enterprise Development Programme (NEDEP) of the Federal Government and will enable BoI to achieve its core mandate of industrialisation by providing finance for the economically active, yet financially excluded micro entrepreneurs.
According to him, the bank explores global opportunity by implementing exchange programmes with the world’s bestdevelopment finance instituions such as BNDS in Brazil, KFW in Germany and IDC in South Africa/
Also speaking, Godwin Ehigiamusoe, managing director, LAPO Microfinance Bank, said the economic rebound can only take place if the banks begin to engage Nigerians at the bottom of the pyramid.
“The success will be measured by the number of people that are empowered,” Ehigiamusoe said, stressing that the fund will get to rural areas, as LAPO has branches in 28 states, including Abuja.
Hajara Adeola, Lotus Capital’s CEO, said the scheme will lift many Nigerians out of poverty, enabling them to make contribution to the economy.
Tiko Okoye, CEO of Fortis MFB, said those at the bottom of the pyramid have been neglected in the financial system, as banks pay more attention to those at the middle and people at the top.
“Once you get the bottom right, you will get the economy right. I believe what we can achieve collectively will be greater than what BoI will acheieve as a single institution,” Okoye said.