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IFC, Ecobank To Finance Entrepreneurs In Africa

Posted: May 27, 2015 at 12:10 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Bamidele Ogunwusi and Akinwunmi King, Lagos

 

International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, and Ecobank Transnational Incorporated, parent company of the Ecobank Group has announced the launch of a $110 million risk-sharing facility that will increase access to finance for small and medium sized enterprises in fragile and conflict-affected states in West and Central Africa.

The target countries face extreme and persistent poverty exceeding 50 per cent of their populations, coupled with severe socio-economic challenges, such as low employment, lack of infrastructure, and high insecurity that disrupts business activity and impedes access to finance.

According to IFC Director for West and Central Africa, Saran Kebet-Koulibaly, these difficult environments have exacerbated the challenges faced by Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs), which represent the backbone of the participating countries’ economies and provide the bulk of employment.

The facility, Kebet-Koulibaly said, was designed to overcome the challenges of lending to these smaller businesses, which have a higher risk profile, in what are some of the world’s poorest countries.

“With IFC and Ecobank sharing risk equally in the $110 million facility, SMEs in Burundi, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Republic of Congo, Guinea, Mali and Togo will gain increased access to loans through Ecobank affiliates.

“IFC places a strategic priority on promoting a sustainable architecture to improve access to finance and spur job creation in fragile- and conflict-affected states. Our partnership will enable Ecobank to better support SMEs which face difficulty accessing much-needed credit in these economies,” he added.

On his part, Ecobank Group Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Albert Essien said “Ecobank remains committed to supporting SMEs, and this facility will go a long way to giving SMEs in fragile states or those emerging from conflict the kind of access to finance they need.

“We are pleased to be a founding member of the Global SME Finance Forum and to be able to play a part in the launch of SME Club campaigns in many African countries. This includes participating countries for this project,” he stated.