IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, has announced $60 million of investment in a regional risk-sharing facility to support Bank of Africa Group’s lending to small and medium enterprises in eight African countries.
The investment will cover as much as 50 percent of the risk on up to $120 million equivalent in loans to local SMEs in Burkina Faso, Ghana, Madagascar, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Tanzania and Togo, aimed at facilitating growth and job creation in the region.
Half the facility is earmarked for women-run businesses, and for climate-related improvements such as energy-efficient equipment upgrades, small solar or biomass systems, and climate-smart agricultural supply chains.
The investment was made possible with support from the Women Entrepreneurs Opportunity Facility (WEOF), launched by IFC through its Banking on Women Programme, and Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women.
Additional support came from the Global SME Finance Facility, a blended-finance partnership among IFC, the UK Department for International Development, and the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“Expanding SME financing, especially in markets where risks are higher, is an important pillar of IFC’s Africa strategy. This facility will allow BOA to extend over 5000 loans to underserved SME’s in the next five years. It could have a transformational impact in the participating countries, seven of which are low income, and five fragile or conflict-affected,” said Oumar Seydi, IFC Regional Director for Africa.
According to him, SMEs are a prime source of growth, jobs and innovation, but can only succeed when they can access sufficient financing. In sub-Saharan Africa, where roughly 350 million new jobs will be needed in the next 20 years, they account for 30 to 60 percent of GDP and 67 percent of jobs.
The WEOF is a facility dedicated to expanding access to capital for 100,000 women entrepreneurs globally. IFC’s Banking on Women Programme has committed 64 investments globally worth $1.71 billion and advised on 39 projects since its launch in 2010. Of these, the WEOF has supported with about US$1billion in commitments to financial institutions in 26 countries.
Cristina Shapiro, Head of 10,000 Women, said research shows that closing the credit gap for women-owned SMEs in emerging markets could push income per capita an average of 12 percent higher by 2030.
“Women entrepreneurs have real potential to impact Africa’s future growth. Through this partnership, we will help to build resilient, women-owned businesses, and enable women entrepreneurs to reach their full potential with the capital and support they need,” she added.