Godwin Ehigiamus is the Managing Director of LAPO Mircofinance Bank. As a university graduate from one of Nigeria’s minority tribes, Godwin was part of a rural cooperative movement before setting up LAPO in Ogwashi–Uku, Nigeria 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. Godwin 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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The Lift Above Poverty Organization (LAPO) is a community development microfinance institution focused on the empowerment of Nigeria’s poor and vulnerable people. It solves the problem of the difficully to access financing that resulted from the sharp increase in the spread and intensity of poverty,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. 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.
LAPO 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.