ALCB Fund acts as anchor investor on LAPO Sierra Leone's debut bond programme.

12 June 2024 –The ALCB Fund has invested SLE 27 million (USD 1.2 million) in LAPO (Lift Above Poverty Organisation) Sierra Leone’s 2-year amortising bond, the first bond issued by a microfinance institution in Sierra Leone. Acting as an anchor investor, the Fund was the largest investor to the programme, and provided crucial transaction structuring support. 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-branch network.

The ALCB Fund’s anchor role was vital given the nascent bond market predominantly featuring sovereign bonds. This is the first non-sovereign bond issuance in the country in over a decade. The Fund’s participation was facilitated 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 by providing 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 October2007, began lending operations in April 2008, and became the first Sierra Leonean deposit-licensed MFI 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 Ehigiamusoe.

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, investors and intermediaries by acting as an anchor investor and providing technical assistance.

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