By Brendan Umoren
Baobab, one of the national Microfinance banks in Nigeria, said it has disbursed in excess of 30 billion naira as loans to 120,000 customers operating small and medium scale businesses in the last 10 years.
The Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the MFB, Dr. Olanrewaju Kazeem who disclosed this in Kaduna, said the bank has served over 120,000 cutomers with loans.
Dr. Kazeem who made the disclosure during an interractive customer forum program in Kaduna also said, that, bank has grown 70 per cent of its customers from small business owners to multi-million naira business owners.
Speaking in an interview with business reporters on the sideline of the program, the CEO said “As a Microfinance Bank, we render financial services, covering loans and advances, savings and deposit, insurance and fund transfer. We render financial advisory services to our clients not withstanding that they are micro”.
Inspite of the successes achieved, the chief executive of the bank however admitted that the bank is faced with her own challenges
“We have faced so many challenges, but that not withstanding, we have been able to serve 120,000 customers. We have 30,000 on our loan book. We have been able to disburse in excess of about N30 billion in the last 10 years.
“Really, this is not up to what we had planned to do. The challenges are the limiting factors. Before now, we had a state license and we were only operating from Kaduna, it is just in 2016 that we were able to get the national license to enable us have branches outside Kaduna. So, today, we are present in Kaduna Lagos, Ogun state and FCT.
“Some of the challenges are just related to common challenges. Infrastructure, power supply and others things that would have reduced our cost of doing business, that were not really there. But generally, we have adapted ourselves to the environment and we are trying to overcome the challenges.
“Presently, we have 20 branches across the country, six in Kaduna, 11 in Lagos and 3 in Abuja and we are still growing, with a plan to have more branches later this year.
“I expect that Microfinance banks should thrive better in the face of economic downturn, because, the bottom is where people will drop to at the end, and since we serve the people at the bottom, we have alot of people to cater for, since people will return to small businesses. Our products are designed specifically for people at the bottom.
“Yes, flow of fund has been very slow because of the economic downturn, but the fact that, everybody comes back to the bottom eventually if there is no place to go, means that, market is always there for us. That is why our products are designed in such a way that, you can get a loan as low as N10,000.
“Our interest rate depends on the products. It is driven by so many things, like the risk appetite. If you consider your business very risky, you will pay a premium for that, and depending on the product.
“What stands us out is that, we look at the economy, we look at people and we simplify our method of accessing loans, to the extra extent that, an average business man in Nigeria can afford to take loan from us, within maximum of four days. And with our electronic system, you can get a loan within a day.
“We have also designed a product to make our customers grow to the point that, they become the ones funding the bank, not the bank funding them any longer.
“In terms of risk, today, our risk is less than five per cent prescribed by the central bank. CBN expects that, for every N100 you give out, N95 should come in. We are doing a lot better than that; for us, get N97 back. So, our risk is around three per cent. Our aim is to even bring it down to as low as two per cent.” He disclosed.
Mrs Rebecca Adeniyi and Mr Ezekiel Jim Baya in their testimony expressed satisfaction with the services rendered by the BOABAB Microfinance bank and urged others to patronize them.