Lift Above Poverty Organisation, LAPO, the parent company of LAPO Micro Finance Bank, is no doubt one of the leading Micro Finance Banks or grass root development organisations in Nigeria and Africa.
LAPO MFB, the initiative started in 1987 when the founder, and a social scientist from the University of Benin, UNIBEN, Godwin Ehigiamusoe was a rural cooperative officer at Ogwashi-Ukwu in Delta State. He began the lending of loans to three economic active women without collateral.
The social scientist, Godwin Ehigiamusoe whom for more than three decades actively participated in the process of building specialized banking system of loan administration without collateral earned his Bachelors in Sociology in 1981 and Master in Sociology of Development, with a specialization in Development Studies in 1996 from the University of Benin. He then furthered his education and obtained a Doctorate in Policy and Development studies with emphasis on microfinance policy instruments and financial inclusion at Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma, Edo State.
The successes and gains recorded by Godwin Ehigiamusoe with the specialized acknowledge of giving out loans without collateral have made many financial institutions including commercial banks to start giving; up to ₦20 million as loans to business owners without the previously required landed properties or other assets demanded previously as collateral or loan securities.
Godwin Ehigiamusoe who since November 2019 retired as the Managing Director of LAPO Micro Finance Bank inline with the Central Bank of Nigeria regulatory guidelines took out time on Sunday morning to write ten commandments for business owners while at the same time revealing some of his personal principles that earned him the successes recorded so far.
The principles are presented in quotes below:
Ten Commandments for Business Owners
1. Know thyself. You are the most important entity in the business. No one else sowed the seed of the business other than you. The success of the business is your gain, and the failure your loss and shame. In selecting the seed of business to sow, consider who you are in terms of temperament, learning or skill , interest and experience . Where there are gaps; be honest with yourself and fill them. Wrong alignment of your personality with the business could hinder superior performance .
2. Use other people’s money. Show me a prosperous business, and I will show you a business that is prudently applying loans for growth. Your own fund may be adequate to begin, but always inadequate to scale up. You are only a borrower not a debtor. Borrow and do so wisely.
3. You will always need talented people. Quickly seek them out within your team. Develop, challenge and reward them. Few talented people are worth more than hordes of ‘averages’
4. Live in the future. At any point in time , create and plan for the ‘future’ with innovations. Never be content with current ‘best practices’ but seek for the ‘next practices’
5. Always do it right. Cutting corners only bring immediate benefits but ends in 100-metres dash. Real success comes from a marathon with twists and turns. It is only integrity that can sustain you on the race .
6. ‘Seduce’ your customers and meet their needs. They determine your success . Give them smiles and not frown. Remember they always have other suitors!
7. Be positive at all times. Raw challenges are reality of business enterprises. Do not create any by your own deliberate acts; but when any comes confront it with positive approach, never be wimpy ; it will be over
8. Be prudent. Subscribe to prudence in all matters of resource utilization. Financial resources the vital ‘blood’ of your business; avoid its haemorrhage . Defer immediate gratifications and loathe the popular tag of ‘philanthropist ’ as you build your business; when success arrives, you can set up generous Foundation.
9. Be diligent. Embrace hard work; and do so consistently. In the first five years of the business, work like a slave, and thereafter as a servant. Business ownership or being a boss is a more of responsibility than privilege.
10. Never neglect body: Your body is the most delicate ‘machine’ ever. Like all machines, it needs diligent attention and maintenance; give it adequate rest and prompt fix , where necessary . You need the ‘machine’ in optimal performance level to keep the business on track.