Nigerian involvement in Sierra Leone’s socio-economic development over the years have been immense, with the latest being the disbursement of micro-credit packages to women, who are considered the most deprived, in order to elevate them from poverty.
The Nigerian based Non Governmental Organization (NGO) Lift Above Poverty Organization (LAPO) micro-finance limited, has disbursed micro-credit packages to 100 women and are currently training 1,000 on the use of these packages.
Yesterday, 15 women were issued micro-credit packages worth 300 thousand leones each, at the China Friendship House, at Brookfields in Freetown.
In his opening speech, LAPO Nigeria, General Manager and Chief Operating Officer, Mr Moses Ehigiamusoe disclosed that “the presence of LAPO in Sierra Leone is a realization of LAPO’s dream to go beyond the shores of Nigeria.”
He explained that “Sierra Leone as a country has passed through the trauma of a ten year civil war” and therefore “needs an organization like LAPO to assist in realizing meaningful development because LAPO believes that meaningful development is only possible if effort and recourses are directed at the poor people.”
This is why he said, “LAPO microfinance company limited Sierra Leone was incorporated in October [last year]”.
Mr Ehigiamusoe explained that the average Sierra Leonean family desires to put food on their tables for the household – they desire to send their children to school. In the LAPO tradition, he said “we are committed to the success of this initiative within our capacity in any country in Africa, if given the opportunity. Hence we are calling on all and sundry to join us in this task.”
Highlighting LAPO current status, he disclosed that “LAPO currently works with 148,091 clients in 9 states in Nigeria with total staff strength of 1,343. The sum of thirty five million eight hundred and twenty thousand four hundred and twenty one dollars ($35,820,421) was disbursed in 2007.
For January and February 2008, the sum of Eight million seventy six thousand and forty six dollars ($8,076,046) has been disbursed to owners of micro and small enterprises,” he said.
Addressing recipients of the micro-finance package, Rev Davidson O. Kormoi, Head, of the micro-finance division at the Bank of Sierra Leone explained, that “the Central Bank creates the enabling environment… [for the operation of such micro-credit schemes.]”
He disclosed that the second generation of the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) is micro-credit, adding that it has been identified as a tool for poverty reduction.
Mr Kormoi appealed to clients of the LAPO scheme to use the money for its intended purpose and pay back on time so that others would benefit from LAPO’s micro-credit scheme.
LAPO’s General Manager, Aighobahi Ferguson explained that the target beneficiaries of the scheme are poor women and that the time frame of payment ranges from 5 to 8 months.
The rationale of giving women the credit is the fact that women are better managers than men he said.
“A poor home depends on the women to breakout of poverty,” he said.