Nigeria: Fortem MFI - Empowering MSMEs, Women

20 April 2021

One of the microfinance houses that is doing well right now is Fortem MFI. It is professionally run and it has been helping its customers achieve their dreams since it was set up.

FORTEM MFI is a membership-based institution licenced to operate as a non-governmental Microfinance Institution.

FORTEM MFI is focused on small and medium scale enterprises, salary earners, traders, farmers, the underserved, and those at the rock bottom of the economic pyramid.

In addition, FORTEM MFI is endowed with an active management made up of men and women with over 27 years of experience who have distinguished themselves in banking, insurance, public service and entrepreneurship, and who bring strong competencies to the management of the institution.

"We are strategically positioned to provide excellent services to our customers and exceed their service expectations," the company's Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Ann Usiagu-Muraina said.

"Our vision is to promote social and economic development of individuals and SMEs, helping them to improve their lives and businesses. Our mission is to empower individuals, small and medium size businesses for growth by facilitating financial capacity building and leveraging technology to provide access to financial services.

"Our objectives is to carry out the business of microfinance by providing services to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), businesses, salary earners, individuals, cooperatives, associations and low-income groups in Nigeria irrespective of status.

"We also provide credit to customers, especially salary earners, small and medium enterprises, low-income earners and ensure effective loans usage among beneficiaries.

"We render business advisory, managerial, marketing, technical and administrative support and non-bank financial services to our customers; encourage the savings culture to ensure sustainability in businesses as a tool to poverty alleviation in Nigeria and to establish and carry out businesses as proprietor and promoters of microfinance services in Nigeria," Usiagu-Muraina explained.

She further explained that Fortem Microfinance is offering its services to the underprivileged and low income earners in the society, who may not have access to financial services from mainstream banks.

"Fortem MFI was created out of my passion to help the financially underserved, she says. "I am playing my own part in nation building by establishing Fortem to assist in alleviating poverty in the society. I say assist because it is not a one man or woman job.

"There is always room for more to be done. In doing this, I have created a system where women take up 60 per cent of our loan portfolio. The brief and concentration is on women empowerment, because I am a firm believer in the saying that "when you empower a woman, you empower a nation".

In the words of Kofi Annan, "the empowerment of women is the most effective tool for development."

Owing to this, Usiagu-Muraina said: "We cannot overemphasis the role of women in nation building, starting from the family unit. There is that woman who needs as little as N50, 000 to start that corn roasting business, that corner shop business, that Bukka business, and with that is able to cater for her family and even educate her children past university level.

"That is where Fortem comes in. I tell you, a little amount of money in the hands of a strong, focused, and determined woman goes a long way in moving the family above and beyond the poverty line. I have brought together a team of young brilliant professionals who share same passion.

"At Fortem MFI, we do not enforce compulsory savings as a prerequisite for clients to access our loans. We offer highly competitive rates. Upon execution of offer letters, loans are disbursed within 24hrs.".

Speaking on what makes Fortem unique, she said Fortem offers salary advance loans, SME loans, business loans.

Usiagu-Muraina is a Certified Microfinance Practitioner & a Chartered Banker, a member of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria.

She is a professional human resource manager, skilled on training and learning development for human capital improvement, capability and competence building. She is very keen on maintaining professional work ethics that promotes an amiable business operational atmosphere for productivity, corporate prosperity and general team effectiveness.

Her passion is to continually contribute to National Development as a professional and an entrepreneur. Her involvement in Fortem MR is an expression of entrepreneurship and a means to support individuals, businesses, including small and medium scale enterprises.

She is a Master of Human Resource Management & Training (MSc) from the University of Leicester, United Kingdom and holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree from the Ambrose Alli University, Nigeria. Ann brings on board her vast wealth of experience in banking from Zenith Bank Plc to ensure professionalism.

She has obtained certifications in Global Business from the Havard Business School, the Polished Professional Certificate from the British School of Etiquette and also Frankfurt School of Finance & Management, Germany Certification in view.

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