According to the African Development Bank (AfDB), its actions have helped create more than 440,000 employment opportunities in Nigeria, with women and young people making up 60% of the workforce. This was said at the African Small and Medium Enterprise (SMEs) Immersion Fund Roundtable in Lagos by Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, head of the AfDB. Access Bank PLC organized the roundtable with the title “Enhancing the Capabilities of MSMES in Africa: The Role of Direct Foreign Investments (DFIs)”.
Mr. Lamin Barrow, Director-General of the AfDB’s Nigeria Country Department, acted as Adesina’s representative. According to Adesina, the bank has assisted over 20,500 MSMEs, with roughly eight LOCs aimed at SMEs and worth a total of 1.1 billion dollars. He claims that the bank also launched the Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa program (AFAWA). This is a major program to help women-owned SMEs address the 42 billion USD access to credit gap. By 2026, the bank will help women-owned SMEs access up to $5 billion in credit through AFAWA. By utilizing our LOCs, trade financing, and equity participations, we will increase access to financial services.
The bank wanted to support African countries in modernizing their business.
According to Adesina, the efforts are a part of the bank’s mission to assist African nations in modernizing the conditions that allow MSMEs to flourish. He claims they will be able to access capital through debt financing and equity involvement for regional development banks and specialized banking institutions. Our line of credit initiatives is growing in accordance with the Private Sector Development Strategy (2021-2025) Pillar on Enterprise Development. According to him, they are more specifically intended to encourage the growth of regional value chains and clusters with strong connections, through off-takers and others in order to de-risk the ecosystem.
According to Adesina, the AfDB’s plan for developing the financial sector was built on a few pillars. One of the foundations, according to him, was promoting the growth of local capital markets and financial institutions as well as increasing access to MSMEs working primarily in the informal sector. “The bank’s support to increase their capability, and finance drive inclusion span’s theme areas including access to credit,” the head of the AfDB remarked. This is done via a variety of tools, such as loans, guarantees, and equity ownership in financial intermediaries (FIs), such as banks, private equity firms that specialize in SMEs, and venture capital funds, among others.
The bank is implementing programmes to support the venture capital.
Adesina stated that the bank was carrying out three major programs to support the venture capital sector in Africa in addition to ensuring access to funding. In collaboration with the European Commission and European Investment Bank, the Boost Africa Programme, a 170 million Euro facility, is being put into action. It takes an integrated strategy that combines seed money, technical help, and an entrepreneurship and innovation lab in order to encourage entrepreneurship and innovation throughout Africa. The Social Impact Investment Programme for Africa is another option (SIIPA). This 50-million-euro program aims to assist social entrepreneurs in offering local community’s solutions, frequently involving more convenient and affordable access to finance, healthcare, and education, among other things. Additionally, there is the Investment in Digital and Creative Enterprises Programme (i-DICE), which is co-financed by the Islamic Development Bank and Agence Française de Développement (AFD) (IsDB).
The i-DICE program, according to Adesina, is anticipated to encourage investments in 226 tech and creative start-ups. In order to generate 6.1 million direct and indirect jobs, he added, the program would offer non-financial services to 450 digital technology and SMEs. He claims that the bank also uses digital financial inclusion as a tactic to aid MSMEs. In order to guarantee that 332 million people have access to finance, he said that the ADFI will invest $400 million in grants and loans by 2030. Adesina stated that the bank was working with governments and other development partners to identify the necessary policy reforms to support MSMEs when it came to building an enabling environment.
The private sector landscape in Africa is dominated by MSMEs.
Regarding the roundtable’s impact, he said that it would assist in providing capital, risk sharing, and non-financial services to MSMEs. He said that the proposed $1 billion SMEs Immersion Fund for Africa would do this. MSMEs, the foundation of African economies, dominated the private sector landscape in Africa, according to Adesina. He claimed they had promoted inclusive growth and job creation through investments, innovation, and trading activities, and also, that a variety of circumstances had limited their expansion. He also said these problems stem from their informal structure and include limited access to inexpensive financing, the perception of a high default risk, information asymmetries, and other issues.