A cooperative specialist bank, founded in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Ruhr, Germany in 1966 and with a current investment profile of 150 million Euros, BANK IM BISTUM ESSEN has commenced preliminary steps to investing in Nigeria's micro finance sector, through the Enugu-based Umuchinemere Pro-credit Micro Finance Bank Nigeria (UPMFB) Limited.
BANK IM BISTUM ESSEN, Germany, which is making a move to participating in the equity financing of the Nigerian bank, Umuchinemere PMFB, Enugu, was established for the Church and Caritas institutions, religious communities, foundations and their employees, while UPMFB was established in 1995 by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Enugu, first as a community bank and later transformed to a micro finance bank of note in year 2007, following Nigeria's introduction of micro finance banking in December 2005.
A high-powered 2-man delegation of the German Bank, led by the management board Chairman/Chief Executive Officer, Heinz-Peter Heidrich, met with Umuchinemere PMFB management team at UPMFB Headquarters, Enugu on a fact-finding mission to begin a move to collaborating with the Nigerian bank on investment and partnership in the microfinance sector of the country.
The delegation's spokesman and Director Foreign Clients/Sustainable Investment, Mr. Michael P. Sommer, said, "We want to invest in Nigeria's micro finance sector. Our bank is church-oriented. We are doing real investment in micro finance institutions we're exploring ways of investing in Umuchinemere Pro-credit Micro Finance Bank".
Messrs Sommer and Heidrich who were impressed with the information about the performance of UPMFB, which they obtained from the bank's website, disclosed that they had invested in the Latin American part of the world and were now looking towards investing in Africa, with Nigeria as their first entry point of contact in Africa.
"We are not branch-oriented. We work more in institutional building. We are working in re-financing in the micro finance sector. We are small bank, we don't engage in capacity building. We are here to first discuss person to person, and our philosophy is based on the social doctrine of the church, not to maximize profit. We are not profit-oriented but need funds for sustainability", the BANK IM BISTUM ESSEN foreign client director explained.
The German bank, meant to fight poverty along the line of the church and which its delegation said had investment fund of 150 million Euro presently, with 2300 members, among which is the Daughters of Divine Love (DDL) Reverend Sisters Congregation on Nigeria, demand to know the investment plan of Umuchinemere Pro-Credit Micro Finance Bank for year 2010.
The delegation specifically told the UPMFB officials that the German bank, having a common goal with the Nigeria bank in the fight against poverty, is looking for a long term business relationship with UPMFB but would first do a lot of analysis before engaging in such a relationship "because we have two interests as a bank: increase in business and struggling against poverty".
Managing Director of Umuchinemere Pro-Credit Micro Finance Bank, Mrs. Nnenna Maria Ekete, who led other heads of department of the bank in the discussion, told the German bank delegation that thought her bank has the credibility, the market and fund management capability, its constraint remained paucity of fund for expansion, thereby needing increase in its equity funding to enhance its progression rate.
Assuring the Germans "there is future in investing in our bank because we're making progress and we're declaring dividend and have a good management, regardless of the world financial crisis", Ekete said since both banks shared common objective the German bank was welcomed to participate in the equity holding of MUPFB to help the bank grow, stressing that it has persons of proven integrity in its Board with most of them being knowledgeable in financial sector management.
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