2 Firms ease access to finance for SMEs

BY: Graphic Business
Mr Bendjin Kpeglo (left), Managing Director of AGF West Africa and Mr Harold Coffi (right) Chief Executive Officer of Societe Generale Burkina Faso signing the agreement.

The African Guarantee Fund for Small and Medium Enterprises (AGF West Africa SA) has granted a portfolio guarantee of 2.5 billion CFA franc to support small businesses, women entrepreneurship and the green economy in Burkina Faso.

The CFA franc is the name of two currencies, the West African CFA franc, used in eight West African countries, and the Central African CFA franc, used in six Central African countries. Although separate, the two CFA franc currencies have always been at parity and are effectively interchangeable.

Expected to be made possible through Société Générale Burkina Faso, the portfolio guarantee is backed by the AFAWA Guarantee for growth programme, a joint initiative of the AfDB and the African Guarantee Fund, which is aimed at releasing up to $3 billion in loans to women-owned SMEs in Africa.

The agreement

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Société Générale Burkina Faso, Harold Coffi, at the signing in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, said the agreement will allow Société Générale Burkina Faso to further increase its commitment to the SME/SMI segment.

This, he said, was in line with the activities of the Maison de la PME created by the bank and, on the other hand, to promote the development of green entrepreneurship and women's leadership in the business community.

Mr Coffi said: "The Société Générale Group, which has been present in Africa for 100 years, reaffirms its loyalty to the continent and its firm commitment to supporting the development of local economies.

Thus, through the "Grow with Africa" initiative launched in 2018, Société Générale intends to actively contribute to the sustainable development of Africa around 4 priorities which are: to support the development of African SMEs, to participate in the financing of infrastructure, to finance agricultural sectors and the renewable energy sector and finally to promote financial inclusion by supporting female entrepreneurship in particular.”

According to Mr Coffi, as a privileged partner of the local entrepreneurial ecosystem, Société Générale Burkina Faso embodies an ambition of financing the economy on a daily basis, adding that the partnership with the African Guarantee Fund will serve to increase the financing capacity of small and medium-sized enterprises and promote the country's economic growth.

He said: “Société Générale Burkina Faso is fully committed to this strategic axis of the Group, with the creation of the Maison de la PME in 2019 and the strengthening of its collaboration with various international actors involved in the development of SMEs.

Among these players is the African Guarantee Fund (AGF West Africa S.A.), with whom Société Générale Burkina Faso is proud to sign this partnership agreement today in order to guarantee a portfolio of new loans to Burkinabe SMEs."

Limited access

The Managing Director of AGF West Africa, Mr Bendjin Kpeglo, said: "Limited access to finance is a major obstacle to the development of African SMEs.

“AGF is committed to improving SMEs' access to finance by providing financial institutions with guarantee solutions and capacity building support.”

“Our partnership with Société Générale in Burkina Faso aims at strengthening the competitiveness of businesses, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises, including those owned and managed by women (through the AFAWA program) and those whose activities are geared toward protecting the environment,” he added.