ALCB Fund Acts as Anchor Investor for the SLE 60 Million Debut Bond of LAPO Sierra Leone

12 June 2024.

The ALCB Fund has invested SLE 27 million (USD 1.2 million) in LAPO (Lift Above Poverty Organisation) - LAPO Sierra Leone’s 2-year amortising bond, the first bond issued by a microfinance institution in Sierra Leone. Acting as an anchor investor, the ALCB Fund invested ca. [45%] of the issued amount and provided crucial support for transaction structuring. The bond proceeds will enable LAPO SL to expand its loan book, furthering its mission to economically empower low-income households. Currently, LAPO SL serves ca. 33,000 Sierra Leoneans across its 37 branches network.
The ALCB Fund’s anchor role was vital given the nascent bond market predominantly featuring sovereign bonds. Moreso, the country’s high interest rates and limited hedging solutions for international investors made the Fund’s support all the more catalytic.

The ALCB Fund was able to achieve its minimum expected return on this investment with the support of Invest Salone, a private sector development initiative funded by FCDO to encourage investment in Sierra Leone. Invest Salone supported the transaction by providing the Fund with a grant to support the transaction hedging cost and local investors with a limited partial guarantee.

Brock Hoback, Fund Lead of the ALCB Fund, said, “The Fund is delighted to have supported this historic transaction in Sierra Leone. We aim to push boundaries continually and unlock new markets.

We hope this transaction will stimulate the Sierra Leonean bond market. The funds raised by LAPO SL will provide affordable loans to women from low-income households, enhancing their financial independence and empowerment, which aligns perfectly with our mandate.”

Gabriel Eshiague, Managing Director of LAPO Sierra Leone, said, “We recognise and value the anchor role played by the ALCB Fund for the success of our debut bond. Besides being the largest investor, the ALCB Fund also supported the improvement of the bond documentation. This investment will support the development of our lending activities, providing more financing for low-income households, especially women. We are also very proud to be one of the pioneers in developing Sierra Leone’s capital markets.”

Christina Clark-Lowes, Invest Salone’s Investment Lead, said, “This transaction was an innovative way for us to achieve our goal of facilitating inclusive economic growth in Sierra Leone. Invest Salone provided support to LAPO SL, the ALCB Fund and the local investors for the success of the operation. We believe that this transaction will channel funding from institutional investors to local Sierra Leonean businesses, giving them access to an alternative source of financing and hence leading to improved private sector business activities in the country.”

About LAPO Sierra Leone
LAPO SL is a pro-poor MFI that aims to provide Sierra Leoneans underserved by the financial sector with affordable financial services. LAPO SL was established in October 2007, began lending operations in April 2008, and was licenced as a deposit taking MFi in Sierra Leone in 2017.

LAPO SL currently serves over 33,000 active clients across its 37 branches network. Its majority shareholder is LAPO NGO, a Nigerian non-profit community development organisation initiated in 1987 by Dr. Godwin Eseiwi Ehigiamusoe.

Dr. Godwin Eseiwi Ehigiamusoe is the Founder and Group Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of LAPO.  

As a university graduate, Godwin was part of a rural cooperative movement before setting up LAPO in Ogwashi-Uku, Nigeria in 1987. 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 by the Grameen Foundation.

Godwin is the author of Understanding NGOs (1998), Poverty and Microfinance in Nigeria (2000), Issues in Microfinance: Enhancing Financial Inclusion (2021), and Touching Lives: My LAPO Journey (2021). He has also written and presented a lot of scholarly papers and lectures in many universities and conferences all over the world.    

About Invest Salone
Invest Salone is an FCDO-funded, private sector development programme that boosts investment in key sectors by strengthening the pipeline of investible firms and projects; supporting firms to grow their exports; and helping the private and public sectors to find lasting solutions to investment blockages that hamper business growth. Invest Salone’s overall aim is to increase incomes and jobs for thousands of Sierra Leoneans.

About ALCB Fund
The ALCB Fund was founded by KFW in 2012 on behalf of the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). The Fund’s mission is to support the development of African capital markets by promoting primary corporate bond issuances in local currency. This is achieved by supporting African issuers, investorsv and intermediaries by acting as an anchor investor and providing technical assistance.
Dr. Godwin Esiewi Ehigiamusoe Founder and Group Chief Executive of LAPO
Dr. Gabriel Eshiague Chief Executive officer & Managing Director of LAPO