Chairman's Statement at the 2007 AGM

Chairman's Statement at the 2007 AGM

The Catholic Bishop of Enugu,
Our Valued Shareholders,
Highly Respected Members of the Board of Directors,
Stakeholders of UP-MFB,
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen.
It is a great honour to welcome you to the 12th AGM of UP-MFB for the financial year ended 31st December, 2007 and to present to you the Chairman's statement on the affairs of the Bank for this period.

You may recall, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, that Umuchinemere Procredit Micro-Finance Bank (UP-MFB) came into existence as a result of the transformation of Community Banks in Nigeria into Microfinance Banks following the Policy Guidelines of the Central Bank of Nigeria introduced on December 15th 2005 by the Federal Government of Nigeria.

The former Umuchinemere Community Bank (UCB) came into existence in 1995 with the strong support of His Excellency, Most Rev. Michael Eneje, Emeritus Bishop of Enugu. The bank has continued to enjoy the backing of many Catholic Parishes, societies, individuals, organisations, institutions and the community environment of Enugu Diocese.

Our Values and Mission and Action The mission, vision and values of UP-MFB which Corporate Parent is the Catholic Diocese of Enugu is "to be a Micro-Finance Bank with ethical standards, offering best in class financial products and services that are innovative, socially responsible, customer focused, grass root and community oriented, promoting sustainable stakeholder participation and integral human development". The motto of the Bank is "Making money work for you." Thus money as a responsible servant and tool at the disposal of human beings and not vice versa.

Towards realizing the transformation to a Micro-Finance Bank and in compliance with regulatory bodies, the old Board of UP-MFB under the able leadership of the founding chairman, Ezeudo, Chief Gabriel Akachukwu was dissolved on 19th January, 2007 paving the way for the new Board under our humble efforts and leadership to serve the affairs of UP-MFB, pursue its vision and mission, grow its asset and wealth for the overall common good and lead with ethical profile and cooperate governance values its future for all round stakeholder benefits. This mandate is possible only with you.

The 11th AGM of UP-MFB which was held at the hall of Ofu-Obi African Centre Independence layout, Enugu unanimously approved the new Board whose membership is representative of the major shareholders of the Bank made up of the Catholic Diocese of Enugu, reputable and grass root oriented NGOs, highly respected individuals and associations.

Summary of Bank's Performance in Year 2007
It is my responsibility as Chairman to present to you a statement of summary indicating the Bank's results during the year, its operating environment for the financial year ended 31st December 2007 as well as our projections for the next year.

Great successes recorded in year 2007 include the granting of Approval-in-Principle (AIP) by the Central Ban of Nigeria (CBN) to the UP-MFB Ltd. to operate as a unit Micro-Finance Bank in February, 2007 and to satisfy stringent regulatory demands before obtaining a Final License. In September 2007, the Bank satisfied these regulatory demands and was granted a Final License by the CBN becoming thereby the first finally licensed MFB that has converted from a Community Bank to a Micro-Finance Bank in the 11 states of the former Eastern Nigeria.

Furthermore, the Bank applied to the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), Abuja for approval to capitalize from one hundred million naira to one billion naira and was so granted in July 2007. UP-MFB Ltd. thus became the first amongst the over seven hundred former community Banks in the whole of Nigeria to achieve this capitalization approval, which positions it as a State Micro-Finance Bank corresponding to our future plans. It is noteworthy that the cost of this capitalization with statutory fees amounting to about twenty million naira was written off within the same year making it possible for the Bank to declare a dividend for all shareholders at today's AGM.

The customer base of the Bank has grown to over forty thousand clients. The Bank's Assets rose to NGN 999, 259, 893.03 in December 2007 from NGN 840, 505, 221.19 in December 2006 representing an increase of 18.9%. The gross earnings increased from NGN 94, 924 265.91 in 2006 to close at NGN 147,841, 054.87 indicating a 55% increase. Profit Before Tax (PBT) rose significantly from NGN 16, 463, 116.75 in December 2006 to NGN 37, 813, 072.19 in the review period representing an increase of 129% while Profit After Tax (PAT) rose from NGN 15, 469, 641.75 in 2006 to NGN 36, 607, 497.19 in 2007 representing an increase of 136%. This indicates Earnings Per Share growing from 15 kobo in 2006 to 22 kobo in 2007 which indicates a growth of 46.7%. We are a Listening Bank. Based on this performance, the Board of Directors recommends for your approval an appropriation of NGN 24, 646, 223. 70 proposed as dividend for year 2007. This performance will be improved upon in year 2008.

The authorized and issued share capital of your Bank is one billion naira out of which NGN 164, 308, 158.00 has been paid up. There is urgent need and opportunity for increased shares, mobilization and acquisition by stake holders of UP-MFB. In the annual report 2006, one hundred million naira was fully paid up capital. At the end of the year 2007, this has increased to NGN one hundred and sixty four million naira, that is 64%. The Bank's target under the Board is to shore up capitalization for the outstanding shares until April 2009 for over eight hundred million naira. Board therefore recommends a RIGHTS ISSUE of one naira per share to original and existing shareholders who joined the Bank before December 2006 which is the period before the transformation to a Micro-Finance Bank. This offer is special and valid for three months from date and therefore needs your approval in view of the fact that the current going rate of the share is two naira and will still go up following re-valuation by experts.

Permit me to inform you that the growth plan of the Bank as approved by the CBN in the five year business plan of UP-MFB is to be present in all the Local Government Areas of the Diocese and State of Enugu. Presently, Customer Relationship Offices (CROs) are being rolled out in the major markets around the city of Enugu. Plans have been concluded for the Ngwo Branch of the Bank to open two new CRO's at Amokwe and Udi town before Christmas 2008. Stakeholders and friends of the Bank are invited to conduct feasibility studies and propose to the Management and Board of the Bank, new areas and towns for Bank branch network and expansion. We must fight poverty everywhere, especially in the rural areas where our people live.

Global and Domestic Environment
You are well aware ladies and gentlemen that in 2007, the global economic system was plagued by turbulent financial crisis caused by negative economic trends such as the crash in the U.S. mortgage market and more recently the lack of trust among Banks leading to both financial crunch and stock market plunges beyond the projections of economic theorists. Added to this was the volatile food security crisis and rising commodity prices. Crude oil increased in cost leading to a downward review to 0.5% by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) of projected global growth rate in 2007.

Nonetheless, the global environment enjoyed significant surprises from emerging economies such as China, India and Russia which recorded 11.5%, 9% and 8% respectively. The same could be said of the African continent aggregate growth due to high oil and commodity prices occasioned by raising demand on the Asian continent. African economies recorded an average of 6.2% GDP growth rate at a time where Western Nations including the U.S. and Europe experienced decline. UP-MFB was not negatively affected by these developments.

Board of Directors
Members of the Board of directors have worked very hard to reposition the Bank and lead it to heights as expected by the shareholders. We recognize the great roles played by Msgr. Dr. Anthony Anijielo, Chairman of the Establishment committee; Dr. Mrs. Ngozi Agu, President General of the C.W.O; Mr. Peter Alexander Egom, Chairman of the Audit committee and Dr. Ndidi Nnoli Edozien, coordinating director and leading expert on Micro-Finance initiatives in Nigeria, guiding our Bank with advice on equity, investment and shares capitalization.

The Board has complied with CBN directives that the Managing Director of the Bank, if confirmed, be made a Board Director. Thus, Mrs. Nnenna Maria Ekete, before now, Manager and Acting Managing Director has been found worthy to be trusted by the Bank with the onerous duty of Managing its affairs in the capacity of Managing Director. I congratulate her and her team of staff. She has grown with the bank since its inception 12 years ago. Igwe R.C. Anih, a major shareholder and promoter of the UP-MFB has requested for and has been accepted in personal capacity as a Director-in-Attendance recently. The AGM is hereby informed and requested to accept these new members as Directors of the Bank.

Furthermore, the Daughters of Divine Love congregation of Sisters (D.D.L.) which is a major shareholder of the Bank recently assigned a lawyer and Rev. Sister in the person of Sr. Benedicta Odoh to serve the bank in the capacity and function of the Company Secretary. She has commenced work with the Bank. We are grateful for the services of Barrister P.C. Egbuna, legal adviser.

Membership of Bank Committees
Our Micro-Finance Bank enjoys high reputation and patronage because of stakeholder orientation which makes people see the Bank as their own outfit. They believe in the Bank, invest in the Bank, grow with the Bank, support the Bank and serve the Bank. The thrust of the UP MFB in this dispensation is to have enlarged Bank committees where wisdom and expertise is available. I inform you that Board has set up some committees and will still set up others made up of Shareholders, Management and Board members for de-centralized efficiency, expertise, and talent recognition to position the Bank amongst the best in Nigeria, we shall have committees in the following areas:

Security Committee
Media and Public Relations Committee
Information Technology Steering Committee
Board Establishment Disciplinary and Promotion Committee
Board Shares Mobilization/Equity/Investment Committee
Board Audit and Risk Assessment Committee
Directors Remuneration and Nomination Committee
Board Credit Committee

All these committees shall be coordinated by the chairman under the Administrative Board Committee which shall meet regularly.

Gratitude and Conclusion
Looking back at where we started and where we stand, I desire to extend heartfelt gratitude to the founding fathers and mothers of UP-MFB. We thank His Excellency, the Emeritus Bishop of Enugu, Most Rev. M. U. Eneja whose vision and belief that the Catholic Church must serve the overall developmental needs of people as an integral understanding of evangelization remains exemplary. His successor in office, Bishop Anthony Okonkwo Gbuji has continued to give good advice and trust to the Board and Management of the Bank and has remained a pillar of support.

We recognize the pioneer chairman of the Bank, Chief Gabriel Akachukwu whose acumen and daring sustained the Bank at its earlier stages and made it survive the intricacies of modern Banking. With goodwill, business acumen, support and consistent effort, Chief Akachukwu together with members of the Catholic Laity Council, the Clergy and Religious of Enugu Diocese gave the Bank the much needed direction which has sustained it to this date.

We thank all those who served in the old Board creditably including Prof. Julius Onah, Dr. Vero Mogboh, Msgr. Dr. Ferdinard Okpalibekwe, Chief Sir Anthony Nwachukwu, Msgr. Dr. Tobias Anechebe, Msgr. Dr. Anthony Aso, Dr. Ndidi Nnoli Edozien, Msgr. Dr. Anthony Anijielo to mention but a few. These great people gave of their time and talents and laid the foundations upon which our Bank continues to make progress. I recall Mr. John Nnam, the founding manager of the Umuchinemere Bank and all the pioneer staff for their great services, honesty and accountable stewardship. With the Bank now in the able hands of Mrs. Maria Ekete as Managing Director, the sky remains the limits.

UP-MFB enjoys the patronage of several correspondence Banks, financial institutions and non governmental community based organizations. We intend to diversify these Banking relationships and deepen our collaboration both with other MFBs and the universal Banks such as the Zenith Bank, Diamond, UBA, Oceanic, First Bank, Union, Spring, Intercontinental, Afribank and other banks, which share our common values and would promote our aims and aspirations.

The Bank looks forward to deepen relationships especially with the Founding Shareholders and the Catholic Diocese of Enugu, CIDJAP, Growing Businesses Foundation, C.W.O., parishes and laity organization, credible individuals and business organizations. Efficient Banking demands of accountability, control and renowned professional Chattered Accountants. I regret to inform you that with the discontinuation of services of the firm of accountants, Emeka Ibe and Co., which audited the accounts of the Bank from 1996 till date, Board has obliged CBN and regulatory authority demands on the tenure of auditors services and hereby requests the AGM to accept Board recommendation for a new auditor to the Bank for the year 2008.

Thanking you for your constant cooperation and wishes for God's blessing.

Msgr. Prof. Dr. Obiora Ike
Chairman, Board of Directors, UP-MFB

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