IFC, Bank Of Africa Group announce US$77m agreement to support SMEs across Africa

The International Finance Corporation (IFC) has announced an investment in a risk-sharing facility worth US$77million for the Bank Of Africa Group (BOA), at a ceremony held in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.

The investment aims to ease access to finance for small and medium-scale enterprises (SMEs), including businesses in fragile and conflict-affected countries and the Sahel.

IFC under the agreement will invest US$77million to scale-up BOA’s lending to small and medium enterprises (SMEs), including women-owned businesses in some selected countries: such as Ghana, Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Tanzania, Togo and Madagascar.

This investment will guarantee BOA Group 50 percent of an aggregate loan portfolio up to US$154million, for distribution to businesses in the agriculture, trade, energy, construction and other sectors.

Women-owned businesses, which often face barriers to accessing finance, are expected to benefit from at least 2,000 out of the 12,000 new loans to be disbursed under this initiative.

IFC will also provide advisory services to help BOA strengthen its portfolio of women-owned SMEs across its affiliates in the ten countries.

SMEs are the backbone of African economies. They account for up to 90 percent of all businesses in sub-Saharan Africa and represent about 38 percent of the region’s GDP, but many SMEs are held back because of lacking access to finance.

According to World Bank enterprise survey data, the SME finance gap in the ten target countries is US$21billion, and 53 percent of SMEs are either partially or fully credit constrained.

Group Chief Executive Officer of BOA, Amine Bouabid said: “At Bank Of Africa, we recognize that small and medium scale enterprises (SMEs) are the backbone of African economies. Because of their immense contribution toward development of the African economy, one of the three pillars in our strategy is to increase our loan exposure to SMEs. We strongly believe that this investment will support BOA to strengthen the SME sector”.

The project aligns with the IFC’s pledge to support reduction of the SME financing gap in sub-Saharan Africa under the Alliance for Entrepreneurship in Africa.

The IFC’s Regional Industry Director for Africa, Aliou Maiga, on his part said: “IFC is deepening its partnership with BOA to reflect a strategy to support financial inclusion, access to credit and, most importantly, support private sector development on the continent.”

IFC’s investment is supported by the Global SME Finance Facility (GSMEF), a blended finance partnership with donor funding from the United Kingdom (UK) and Dutch Government. The support is through programmes such as the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi) – the Women Entrepreneurs Opportunity Facility launched through its Banking on Women Programme – and Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women.

Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women Programme

Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women is an ongoing initiative to foster economic growth, by providing women entrepreneurs around the world with skills on how to manage their businesses and have access to capital. In partnership with the International Finance Corporation (IFC), Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women launched its global finance facility in 2014 to support women entrepreneurs. So far, the initiative has reached over 200,000 women from over 150 countries The 10,000 Women in-person business education programme was launched in 2008, reaching over 10,000 women across 15 countries around the world; and in 2018 the 10,000 Women curriculum was made available online through Coursera, further democratizing access to business education in more corners of the world.

We-Fi Project

The Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi) is a collaborative partnership among the 14 governments which have made financial contributions, six multilateral development banks that serve as implementing partners, and other public and private stakeholders. We-Fi was formally established in October 2017 as a Financial Intermediary Fund hosted by the World Bank.

About Bank Of Africa Group

Bank Of Africa Group (BOA Group) is currently present in 19 countries – eight in West Africa: Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Mali, Niger, Togo and Senegal. And eight in East Africa and the Indian Ocean region: Burundi, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Congo and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The BOA Group network of 18 commercial banks, one global holding company, two regional holding companies, one investment company, two technical support subsidiaries, two processing and IT support companies and one representative office in Addis Ababa, has been majority-owned by BMCE Bank (whose name recently changed to Bank Of Africa), the 3rd-largest bank in Morocco.

About Bank Of Africa Ghana

In Ghana, the Bank Of Africa has 25 retail branches and one corporate banking office spread across six regions. The bank is focused on providing exceptional services that afford clients convenience while meeting their banking needs.

To further carve its niche as a model international trade business and SME support bank, Bank Of Africa combines Convenience, Affordability and Relationship Management to serve its customers better.

The bank to its credit has bespoke products and services which are unique and specially designed to suit the needs of its International Trade, Corporate, SME and Retail Customers.