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Saturday, May 21, 2022

How LAPO is changing lives of low income earners

By Alfred Koroma

Lift Above Poverty Organization (LAPO) is the name of the micro finance institution committed to the empowerment of low income earners through access to response safe financial services in Sierra Leone.

The company which is an offshoot of the LAPO micro finance Bank and NGO in Nigeria started operations in Sierra Leone in 2008.

By and large, the micro finance company looks at the handicaps faced by many institutions and business people not just businesses that are big up there, but also smaller businesses, individual sole proprietors, people who may not be able to have accessibility to funds  or  have difficulty in accessing funds from the normal regular commercial banks.

 We are looking at how best we can breach the gap; how best we reach out to these categories of people and to ensuring that we are able to make funds needed for them as quickly as much as possible, LAPO Managing Director, Gabriel Eshiague told Star TV Abdul Rahman Kamara in an interview.

One unique thing about micro financing has to do with creating some products that can actually meet out to specific needs of individuals.

To meet these individual needs, LAPO has put in place various categories of products including Small Business Loans (SBL), meant for medium or small scale businesses and Small Medium Enterprise (SME) loans, for businesses that are a little bit higher. These products are for both the formal and the informal sector of which 75 percent goes to women.

The company has presence in 14 out of the 16 Districts of Sierra Leone. In addition to this, LAPO is also going digital, fully transforming itself into a major banking institution and making it easier for a lot of people to be able to access their services without even going to the company’s offices.

“As far as the country is concerned, one of the things we have actually done is to see that we extend our activities and operations round to the provinces in so many of the provincial headquarters and the chiefdoms,” says Eshiague.

To enable their customers pay back loans, the MD says LAPO offers financial literacy training to the customers to let them understand what they can spend money for which gives them the ability to pay back loans.

“People need to understand they are different from their business; the moment they do, the better and this makes it easier for them to pay back,” he said, adding that the micro finance bank  operates savings account and makes it easier for those who open account with them to get loans.

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