Chidinma Lawanson

Chairman

Chidinma Lawanson holds over twenty three years of experience in the financial services and development finance sector, with emphasis on retail banking, agri finance, small and medium-scale enterprises and financial inclusion, at executive and senior management levels. She presently consults for the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a World Bank Group and brings her to bear, her expertise in agri finance and carries out extensive diagnostics of financial services operators in sub-Saharan Africa, to determine their capacities and gaps in provision of agri finance services. She has capacities to design & implement appropriate technical advisory services in agri risk management, agri product development and roll-out and value chain financing, for financial service operators to scale impact in agri finance. She is well versed in carrying out country-specific agri value chains assessment, with deep insights which are utilized in tailoring agri finance advisory services for financial institutions, with thrust on positive impact on smallholder farmers. Chidinma has provided consultancy expertise on a USAID project in Nigeria, with focus on digital payment systems for off grid solar energy for low income groups, carried out MSME scoping consultancy research in Nigeria on a MasterCard Foundation project & consulted for Access Bank Plc (Nigeria) on an MSME project.

As the CEO of Enhancing Financial Innovation & Access [EFInA], a development finance institution funded by the DFID of UK government and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, with an annual budget in excess of #2.8 million British Pounds, she focused on improving financial inclusion indices in Nigeria via provision of non-returnable grants for Nigerian financial institutions to aid their deployment of impactful financial products to low income segments while advocacy with financial regulators contributed towards policy improvements geared towards bottom-of-the-pyramid segments.

As Head of MSME, Agri Finance & Agency Banking in Diamond Bank Plc (Nigeria) for a significant period, she was instrumental in formulating and expanding the bank’s thrust and impact in the MSME sector, creating first-to-market lending and deposit financial products, through collaborations with international multi-lateral agencies such as such as IFC, USAID and Women’s World Banking. Such financial products, with emphasis on women entrepreneurs, resulted in significant and measurable improvement in access to finance for under-served segments, improving capacity building via tailored advisory services to these segments while increasing the bank’s retail deposit & risk asset portfolios. Chidinma led the agri finance team towards setting up appropriate credit risk management tools and advocating with regulatory agencies regarding agri finance, thus positioning the bank as a key operator in Agri finance sector in Nigeria. Chidinma was also the Head of Human Capital Management at Diamond Bank Plc for a 3-year period, covering the bank’s footprints in Nigeria, West Africa & U.K., formulating far-reaching changes in HR digitization, capacity building & performance management processes.

Mrs. Lawanson is a Hubert H. Humphrey Fellow (a Fulbright Scholarship Program), in the USA and a Post Graduate Diploma in Entrepreneurial Management from Boston University, Massachusetts. She holds a B.Sc. in Chemistry from the University of Calabar, Nigeria & a Post-Graduate Diploma in Computer Science from the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ife, Nigeria. She is a Senior Honorary Member of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria, an Alumna of the Lagos Business School and a member of Institute of Directors (IoD) of Nigeria