SOURCE: Grameen Foundation

August 11, 2008 09:30 ET

Grameen Foundation Announces $5 Million Financing Deal for Nigerian Microfinance Institution LAPO

Largest Microfinance Deal for Standard Chartered Bank Nigeria

WASHINGTON, DC--(Marketwire - August 11, 2008) - Grameen Foundation has announced its second and largest Growth Guarantees transaction in Nigeria: US$5 million for Lift Above Poverty Organization (LAPO), a leading microfinance institution (MFI) in Nigeria. Standard Chartered Bank Nigeria structured the US$5 million Naira equivalent term loan supported by a US$2 million guarantee from Grameen Foundation. This deal is Standard Chartered Bank Nigeria's largest with a microfinance institution in the country.

"We are pleased to help forge this new alliance between Standard Chartered Bank Nigeria and LAPO which will help to fuel LAPO's expansion into southwest and eastern Nigeria, thus giving more poor Nigerians access to financial services and financial security," said Alex Counts, President and CEO of Grameen Foundation. LAPO has been a Grameen Foundation partner since 2002, and currently serves more than 200,000 clients.

"This is the largest portfolio financing support LAPO has received so far from a commercial bank. It has great implications for our efforts to reach a large number of female owners of microenterprises across the country," said Godwin Ehigiamusoe, LAPO's Founder and Executive Director. "The Grameen Foundation/Standard Chartered Bank Nigeria/LAPO financing is a bold statement on the institutional strength of LAPO as well as in the enormous potential of the nascent Nigerian microfinance sector."

According to the Managing Director & CEO of Standard Chartered Bank Nigeria, Mr. Christopher Knight, "The Bank focuses on activities that not only enhance our business performance now and for the long term, but also enhance the economic development of the countries we operate in, have a positive impact on the environment and society, as well as contribute to good governance. I am quite proud of this tripartite partnership with Grameen Foundation and LAPO which has given us the opportunity to provide major support for Nigeria's microfinance sector."

About Grameen Foundation

Grameen Foundation is a global non-profit organization that combines microfinance, technology, and innovation to empower the world's poorest people to escape poverty. It has established a global network of partners in 28 countries that has impacted an estimated 34 million lives in Asia, Africa, the Americas, and the Middle East. Based in Washington, D.C., Grameen Foundation was founded by Alex Counts, who began his work in microfinance with 2006 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Dr. Muhammad Yunus, the founder of Grameen Bank. Dr. Yunus is a founding and current member of Grameen Foundation's board of directors. For more information on Grameen Foundation, please visit www.grameenfoundation.org.

About LAPO

Founded in 1987 in Benin City, Nigeria, Lift Above Poverty Organization (LAPO) provides affordable financial services to rural and urban poor communities. It offers a wide range of savings and loan products to its clients including regular (working capital) loans, farming loans, regular and voluntary savings. LAPO has been awarded the CGAP Pro-Innovation Challenge award for its innovative "Credit for Shares" loan product which aimed at encouraging the participation of the poor, specifically women in the privatization programs of the Nigerian government. In 2006, LAPO also received the Grameen Foundation "Excellence in Microfinance Award." For more information on LAPO, please visit http://www.lapo-ng.org.

About Standard Chartered in Nigeria

In 1965, the Standard Bank of South Africa merged with the Bank of West Africa acquiring businesses including a banking operation in Nigeria, which dated back to 1894. The name was then changed to Standard Bank of West Africa. Four years after the merger, Standard Bank Nigeria was incorporated locally to take over the business in Nigeria. In 1971, 13% of the share capital was placed with Nigerian investors. The end of the civil war saw a major economic upturn and as a consequence, the military government sought to increase local control of the retail-banking sector, hence the Bank's investment in Standard Bank Nigeria (renamed First Bank of Nigeria in 1979) was reduced to 38%. Standard Chartered remained a shareholder of First Bank of Nigeria until 1996.

Standard Chartered re-entered Nigeria in 1999 and opened to customers on 15 September 1999 as a wholly owned subsidiary of Standard Chartered Bank Plc, headquartered in United Kingdom. It now has fourteen branches located in Lagos, Port Harcourt, Abuja, Ibadan, Kano, Ota and Aba offering a wide range of products and services in both consumer and wholesale banking. It employs over 380 employees and sees Nigeria as a growth centre.

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