The Managing Director of Fortis Microfinance Bank Plc Tiko Okoye has expressed the readiness of the bank to partner with traders and Small and Medium Enterprises operators in the FCT and environs in order to grow their businesses through its specialized banking services targeted at the active poor through its Micro-credit scheme.
Speaking at a sensitization forum organized for traders and SME operators in Mararaba and environs Okoye disclosed that the microfinance bank has been listed at the Nigerian Stock Exchange adding that it was the only bank in Nigeria that have obtained Customer Protection Principle (CPP) certification which implies that it will not charge excessive interest on loan credit facilities.
He said that Fortis microfinance bank was working to ensure that the informal entrepreneurs are bankable and that majority of them will remain poor until they are exposed to formal banking and have access to credit, information and capacity building.
“They constitute the many enterprising Nigerians who make living operating petty trading ventures in the suburbs of the FCT and environs.”
“They engage in sale of recharge cards, soft drinks, food stuff, firewood, kerosene, beans cake and also provide services including laundry, mama put, hairdressing, sewing, photography etc. We organize them into small groups (4-8) and they go through a mentorship programme to determine their suitability for the micro-credit. Members of beneficiary groups however, are jointly responsible for ensuring loan repayment, so they are required to give a cross guarantee/commitment for recovery of the loan.
“Our cherished culture of integrity and honesty is applied in assessing the beneficiaries. This produces strong, credible, enterprising and accountable individuals at the villages and community levels, as beneficiaries are chosen on trust, based on known history and proven integrity.
“It is our belief that our microcredit customers have a latent capacity for entrepreneurship. It enables them to engage in economic activities and be more self-reliant, thereby increasing employment opportunities. We also mentor the groups with the objective of formalizing the traditional community/village-level culture in a manner that is transparent, accountable and verifiable,” the Managing Director stated.
He explained that the Fortis Micro-credit scheme was aimed at encouraging women who engage in petty trading and other economic regenerative businesses and have continued to demonstrate capability to utilize micro-credit.