IFC and Ecobank partner to support SMEs in West and Central Africa

May 28, 2015

A $110m facility will help overcome the challenges of lending to smaller businesses.

The International Finance Corporation (IFC) and pan-African banking group Ecobank have announced on May 26th the launch of a $110 million (€101 million) risk-sharing facility to increase access to finance for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in fragile and conflict-affected states in West and Central Africa.

The target countries - Burundi, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Republic of Congo, Guinea, Mali and Togo - face challenges such as low employment, lack of infrastructure, and high insecurity that disrupts business activity and impedes access to finance, the IFC said in a press release.

It added that these difficult environments have exacerbated the challenges faced by small and medium-sized enterprises, which represent the backbone of the participating countries’ economies and provide the bulk of employment.

"Ecobank remains committed to supporting small and medium-sized enterprises, 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 that they need," said Ecobank Group CEO Albert Essien.

The facility is designed to overcome the challenges of lending to these smaller businesses which have a higher risk profile. With IFC and Ecobank sharing risk equally in the $110 million facility, SMEs in the target countries will gain increased access to loans through Ecobank affiliates.