By Providence Emmanuel
Advans La Fayette Microfinance Bank, MfB, said it has disbursed N30 billion as loans since its inception seven years ago.From left: Deputy, Chief executive Officer, Advans La Fayette, MfB, Mr. Obinna Ukachukwu, Ambassador of French to Nigeria, Mr Jérôme Pasquier, Managing Director/Chief Executive, Advans La Fayette, MfB, Mr. Guillaume Valence.
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Managing Director/Chief Executive of the bank, Mr. Guillaume Valence, disclosed this at the unveiling of the first branch of the bank in Lagos.
He said the bank plans to achieve a significant share of the Lagos market after operating in Oyo State for seven years.
Valence explained that the bank found a good market in Oyo State where it started business seven years ago before obtaining a national licence to expand.
He stated: “Cost of money is two digits, Advans is bringing efficiency to bring down the cost and what we ensure from one circle of loan to another is that, the capital of the people we are working with is actually growing, that is what matters. Advans proposes loans in the range of lowest trench of the market.
“This first branch in Lagos means a lot to us, it is a very important mile stone for us and we started our Nigeria story seven years ago in Oyo State. This choice has been very good for us because we meet a very good market in the state and the strategy has always been to enter Lagos ready, to take a significant market share.
“After seven years, I can say that not only do we have very solid foundations, but we also have a solid team to take over the new challenge in the different market and I have so much confidence that this first Lagos branch would surpass any other branch in Ibadan or Oyo State.
“In the last seven years, our purpose has been to support small business; we provide financial services to these small businesses, but as it is, a few days ago, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, said that the objective is to reach 95 percent financial inclusion in the next five years.
“Definitely, we are one of the artisans of this objective and I hope that this opening in Lagos would facilitate this objective. Over the last seven years, we have disbursed 70,000 loans for N30 billion, which is our small contribution to financial inclusion but what we love in our business is that we saw this money growing from one loan to another for our client.
“If we have done that in Oyo, then what is before us in Lagos is much significant. The big picture before us is that in the next three years, we expect to multiply our portfolio by ten to reach €100 million worth portfolio. We want to open more branches in Lagos and cover the entire South West.
In his remark, Ambassador of French to Nigeria, Mr Jérôme Pasquier, said that the opening of a new branch in Lagos is a new dimension to the business of the bank, saying: “I hope Advans would be more successful in Lagos state.I was impressed by the success recorded in Oyo, and I was also impressed with my meeting with the staff and clients of Advans and that shows that it was necessary for them to obtain license to operate beyond Oyo State
Also speaking, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Obinna Ukachukwu, said the bank would support Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, MSMEs, in Lagos state to thrive with its service, especially with its interest rate regime.
Commenting on the new capital base requirement for MfBs, Ukachukwu said it is a welcome development that would translate into stronger banks. He stated: ”It is a welcome development that the banks are going to be recapitalized, we need stronger banks to support the economy, if we must compete globally, then our banks must be big. We are recapitalizing in the MfBs space, in Advans, we are ahead of the capitalization curve, we would keep in line with the regulator capitalization requirements.
“I am assuring SMEs in Lagos that we are about sustainable impact, as a client-oriented financial institution, we believe our core values and relationship-based banking philosophy meet the personal and business banking needs of Lagos MSMEs. We look forward to supporting the thriving commercial and small business enterprises, we invite everyone to discover a better way to bank.
“We are tactical in selecting the businesses that we lend to. We select businesses that are in business and are sustainable and we believe that if you get good business into the pool, then you would have nothing to worry about when the regular business risk crystallizes,” he said.