LOLC with its robust MSME-based (Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises business model is expanding its global footprint with three parallel investments being made in Tajikistan in Central Asia as well as Malawi and Tanzania in East Africa.
LOLC enters Central Asia with its maiden investment in the region through the acquisition of a 75% stake in a company known as Karat, (LLC LTMKh and LLCTMKhL) with a license authorizing them to conduct micro lending and gold loan business in Tajikistan. Tajikistan, with a population of 9.5+Mn people and a lower GDP Per capita of US$859 presents tremendous potential for rolling out the LOLC’s highly successful MSME model that specializes in serving bottom-of- the-pyramid clientele. LOLC will increase its equity stake in the Company to 100% by the year end.
Meanwhile the LOLC Group’s successful microfinance operations in Nigeria and Zambia have provided the impetus for the Group to further deepen its presence in the African continent through strategic acquisitions of two microfinance companies in Malawi and Tanzania. In Malawi, the Group acquired 100% equity stake of Express Credit Limited, while in Tanzania the Group secured a 96% stake of Tujijenge Tanzania Ltd. Malawi with its population of 19+Mn people and low GDP per capita of US$625 and Tanzania with 58+Mn people and GDP per capita of US$1,077, are both deemed to be highly conducive markets for MSME business, thus paving the way for rapid growth and long-term value creation for the Group.
After creating a strong and successful microfinance and SME model in Sri Lanka, LOLC entered into the global MSME arena in 2007 with a maiden investment of just US$0.5Mn to acquire an 18% stake in PRASAC Micro Finance Institution in Cambodia. The Group thereafter acquired 70% controlling interest of PRASAC over the next 9-year period. Under the stewardship of the LOLC Group, PRASAC has continued to register exponential growth over the years. To be able to do so in a Country of a mere 17+Mn people, serves as a clear testament to the versatility of LOLC’s business model in creating value for grass root level communities. The phenomenal success of this investment was further iterated when the LOLC Group divested its stake in PRASAC to South Korea’s largest commercial Bank – Kookmin Bank, with the company being valued at USD 1.1Bn for the second tranche.
LOLC has achieved further success in Cambodia by replicating its MSME business model through LOLC Cambodia, the Group’s second investment in the Country. Today LOLC Cambodia with a lending portfolio of US$900Mn and US$1Bn in assets, is ranked as the fourth largest Microfinance Institution in the Country and also holds the distinct honor of being among the top two most profitable microfinance entities in Cambodia, second only to PRASAC.
LOLC’s greenfield operation in Myanmar, LOLC Myanmar Micro Finance Ltd too remains one of the leading microfinance operations in that Country. Having built a strong lending book and produced consistent profit growth, notwithstanding recent challenges owing to political uncertainty and the COVID-19 pandemic, LOLC Myanmar Micro Finance Ltd has cemented its position as the fourth largest player in Myanmar’ s micro finance sector in less than 6 years.
The LOLC Group’s more recent microfinance investments in Indonesia, Philippines and Pakistan too are now recording turnaround results, supported by a steady buildup of MSME portfolios and assets.
Leveraging its success in East Asia, the LOLC Group expects to further grow its microfinance bandwidth across the central Asia, as well as in the Indian sub-continent, where several potential locations have already been earmarked. Similarly, the new investments in Malawi and Tanzania are expected to set the course for the Group to build scale in the African region. In seeking to further grow its footprint in Africa, the Group expects to focus more intently on penetrating key frontier markets that present strong opportunities for micro entrepreneurship.
Commenting on the significance of LOLC’s global expansion strategy, Deputy Chairman – Ishara Nanayakkara stated that, “Expanding our microfinance model globally is not only about pursuing our commercial ambition, but doing so in a sustainable and socially responsible manner to deliver tangible benefits to those communities at the bottom-of-the-pyramid, who are often overlooked by the formal financial system. I believe the impact we are creating in Sri Lanka, Cambodia and Myanmar, speaks volumes about how our business model is doing just that. How we are holistically responding to the needs of these communities by promoting financial inclusion, empowering women and reducing socioeconomic disparity, in turn triggers broader economic change. It is this formula which has delivered socioeconomic progress for the community and continues to bring commercial success for the Group, that we are looking to replicate through our global expansion strategy. ”
LOLC’s global expansion strategy into identified regions in Asia, Africa and Central Asia will be driven by the Group’s tried and tested MSME business model that will aim to reaffirm LOLC’s position as the world’s largest multi-currency, multi-geographic Micro & SME service provider and validate the LOLC Group’s status as the Sri Lankan multination Conglomerates.