LAPO serves over 486,760 microfinance clients in Nigeria, delivering financial, business support and social services to alleviate poverty and empower the disadvantaged.
Geographic Area of Impact: Nigeria
Model: Social Business
Number of Direct Beneficiaries: 486,760 (September 2011)
Annual Budget: US$ 285 million (2011)
Percentage Earned Revenue: 100%
Recognition: Regional Social Entrepreneur of the Year, Africa, 2010
In the 1980s, Nigeria, the most populous country in Africa, experienced a sharp increase in the spread and intensity of poverty as a result of structural adjustments. The devaluation in currency, removal of subsidies and concurrent drop in oil prices compromised the government’s ability to deliver services and meet its citizen’s expectations. Despite enormous resources and potential, basic poverty indicators place Nigeria among the 20 poorest countries with 70% of the population living in poverty. Today over 50 million people in Nigeria live below the poverty line, and access to finance through formal banks is difficult or impossible for the majority of them.
Innovation and Activities
The Lift Above Poverty Organization is a community development microfinance institution focused on the empowerment of Nigeria’s poor and vulnerable people. It is a non-profit group with several for-profit subsidiaries that deliver social services and provide revenue streams to the parent group.
As part of its non-profit microfinance institution, LAPO offers loans and savings products and investment innovations such as “credit for shares”, to meet the financial needs of low-income people of Nigeria. LAPO’s clients are engaged in micro- and medium-scale enterprises such as craftwork, food processing, merchandising, fabrication and farming.
The LAPO Development Foundation provides social and health empowerment programmes addressing issues related to low self-esteem, poor nutrition, discrimination, injustice and gender inequality. The LAPO Agricultural and Rural Development Initiative specifically addresses challenges that affect the rural economy, including gender issues, political empowerment, sustainable farming methods and market access.
LAPO’s subsidiaries also include LAPO Development Services, which provides training, technical assistance and human resource development to other microfinance institutions, NGOs and banks. The investment bank of LAPO Capital makes investments on behalf of its more successful clients.
Striving for sustainability, LAPO reached sufficient capacity in 2010 to receive a license of registration as a Nigerian microfinance bank. LAPO Microfinance Bank partners with GoldLink Insurance Company to provide micro-insurance to low-income women, and currently 377 children of clients enjoy scholarship awards for secondary education.
As a university graduate from one of Nigeria’s minority tribes, Godwin Ehigiamusoe was part of a rural cooperative movement before setting up LAPO in Ogwashi–Uku, in the Delta State of Nigeria. Under his leadership, LAPO was awarded the Pro-Poor Award for Innovation in Microfinance by the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP), and the Excellence in Microfinance Award by the Grameen Foundation. He is the author of Understanding NGOs (1998); Poverty and Microfinance in Nigeria (2000) and Issues in Microfinance: Enhancing Financial Inclusion (2011).
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