ACCION Microfinace Bank unveils identity, targets 10m entrepreneurs
Peter Egwuatu, Vangard, July 09, 2007

ACCION Microfinance Bank has unveiled its corporate identity, aimed at supporting low income earners and micro entrepreneurs by assisting them with the provision of credit facilities and financial services that would help improve their living standard and engender socio-economic growth of Nigeria.

The Managing Director\CEO, ACCION Microfinance Bank, Mrs. Bunmi Lawson at the launching of the finance outfit in Lagos last week, said “The establishment of the Accion Microfinance Bank is geared towards a sustainable economic empowerment of our beloved country, Nigeria.  In Nigeria, as in many developing countries, a systematic approach and a well articulated programme through the provision of credit facilities and financial services to low income earners and micro entrepreneurs is the panacea to socio-economic growth. This is the goal of ACCION Microfinance Bank in Nigeria.”

She disclosed that the bank has opened one branch in Lagos and hoped to open additional eight branches strategically located in Lagos. According to her: “We have plans to have our presence in all the nooks and crannies of the country. As part of our strategic marketing approach, ACCION Microfinance Bank Limited commenced its pilot programme (market testing ) in April 2006 for six months. During this period, we are testing all our processes and procedures as it concerns the peculiar marketing environment obtainable in Nigeria.

We are committed to expanding our services and reaching large numbers of micro entrepreneurs. We are currently in the verge of opening eight more branches strategically located within the Lagos metropolis. In the next few years, what you see evolve from a single branch microfinance institution will produce a mega bank providing finance to millions of micro enterprises and increasing their income thereby enabling our clients say with conviction, 'my future is bright.”

In his remark at the launching of the bank, Deputy Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Tunde Lemo commended the promoters of the bank for their hardwork and vision towards the socio-economic development of the country.

According to him: “The CBN has earmarked N1.3 billion to beef up capacity within the next three years as part of its support for the development of microfiance institutions in the country. The fund will be used to train CBN and Nigeria Insurance Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) staff as well as staff of microfinance institutions. Though the cost to operators will not be fully free, it would be subsidized. We also intend to have certification programme. All these are meant to encourage the establishment of microfinance institutions.”

Speaking as well, President, ACCION International, Maria Otero said: “ACCION International has $2m equity investment in ACCION Microfinance. In the next five years, we plan to open microfinance banks in at least 20 countries across the continent of Africa thereby creating the largest regional platform for offering comprehensive financial services to the vast population of informal sector players that have been largely un-banked and under-banked."  She stated that Ecobank, Zenith Bank, Citibank, IFC, and SME Managers are committed towards making the microfinance suceed.

According to her, “ECOBANK is pursuing a pan-African strategy and is passionate about the development of Africa and its peoples while ACCION is committed to the global fight against poverty, by giving the poor financial services required to enable them work their way out of poverty.

The partnership is leveraging fully the strengths and competencies of the two institutions. ACCION is world-renowned in microfinance and has over three decades of experience in running microfinance institutions across Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia and sub-Saharan Africa and in the United States. ECOBANK has a large regional network and infrastructure, multi-cultural, and local knowledge of Africa resulting in a strong regional brand with presence in over 18 countries.