Dr Godwin Ehigiamusoe is the founder of Lift Above Poverty Organisation (LAPO), a successful pro-poor development organisation with operations in Nigeria and Sierra-Leone. It also has several subsidiaries that focus on microfinance.
Born on August 21, 1958, he is an accomplished social entrepreneur and a foremost microfinance practitioner who has applied the concept of social enterprise to successfully build a number of enterprises which address the needs of persons and businesses at the bottom end of the society.
In late 1980s, he singlehandedly founded LAPO, and the organisation has evolved into a vast collection of mutually reinforcing institutions/businesses with interests in microfinance, micro-insurance, micro-leasing, healthcare and education, with 9,446 employees in Nigeria.
Dr Ehigiamusoe has been central to the development of microfinance in Africa and actively participated in the formulation of the Nigerian Microfinance Policy, Regulatory and Supervisory Guidelines.
Ehigiamusoe earned his first and second degrees in Sociology and Sociology of Development respectively at the University of Benin. He also holds a Doctorate degree in Policy and Development Studies with distinction in his dissertation on Policy Instruments and Financial Inclusion: A Comparative Study of the Ethiopian and Nigerian
Microfinance Policies and Regulatory Frameworks, at the Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma.
He has attended several capacity enhancement and development programmes at the Harvard Kennedy School (2005); Lagos Business School (2010); IESE Business School, Barcelona (2010) and ISEAD Business School, Singapore Campus (2010).
As a university graduate from one of Nigeria’s minority tribes, Godwin was part of a rural cooperative movement before setting up LAPO in Ogwashi–Uku, in Delta state of Nigeria.
Under his leadership, LAPO was awarded the Pro-Poor Award for Innovation in Microfinance by the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP), and the Excellence in Microfinance Award by the Grameen Foundation.
He has authored, Understanding NGOs (1998), Poverty and Microfinance in Nigeria (2000),Issues in Microfinance: Enhancing Financial Inclusion (2011) and It Can Be Done (The Mind Behind LAPO).
He is married to Mrs. Elizabeth Ngozi Ehigiamusoe and blessed with five lovely children.
LAPO and Impacts On Poverty Alleviation
The Lift Above Poverty Organization (LAPO) is a non-profit group with several for-profit subsidiaries that deliver social services and provide revenue streams to the parent group.
Today, LAPO has offered several millions of people who live below the poverty line, access to finance.
LAPO offers loans and savings products and investment innovations such as “credit for shares,” to meet the financial needs of low-income people of Nigeria. LAPO’s clients are engaged in micro- and medium-scale enterprises such as craftwork, food processing, merchandising, fabrication and farming.
The LAPO Development Foundation provides social and health empowerment programmes addressing issues related to low self-esteem, poor nutrition, discrimination, injustice and gender inequality.
Its investment bank; LAPO Capital makes investments on behalf of its more successful clients. Striving for sustainability, LAPO reached sufficient capacity in 2010 to receive a license of registration as a Nigerian microfinance bank.
Dr Ehigiamusoe strongly believes that “meaningful development is only possible if the people at the bottom end of the society have full economic citizenship.”
He also believes that no problem is insurmountable.
“I think the first thing I have learned is that every challenge or problem is surmountable if you devote adequate attention to it and you tackle it with diligence. This is true on a personal level, at the corporate level, and at the national level.
“Therefore, if you are pursuing any goal, either at a personal or corporate level, you should be very careful not to be distracted by criticisms that may be uninformed or not well-intended. This helps you better focus and move ahead.”
According to him, “I am fascinated with people with a can-do spirit. And of course, integrity is important. I think that cannot be overemphasised. In whatever you do, no matter the skills you have, no matter how intelligent you are, if all is not laid on the building block of integrity, everything will collapse.”
“At LAPO, we recognise the unleavened potential of MSMEs, and the significant role of they play in poverty alleviation and to the economy, as well as the huge financing gap the sector faces. It therefore follows that financial exclusion experienced by MSMEs would be detrimental to the growth and development of the economy,” he pointed out.