IFC launches Central Africa SME Fund

May 12, 2010

World Bank Group member IFC has launched the Central Africa Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) Fund.<br /><br />

It is set to invest $12.5 million (€9.8 million) in equity into the fund to help improve SME access to finance in central Africa. IFC said it aims to reduce poverty in some of the least developed countries on the continent, as well as create employment opportunities.

A total of $25 million is expected to be mobilised for the fund from the private sector and development finance organisations with the help of Cameroon-based SME fund manager Cenainvest and Netherlands-based social investment fund manager XSML. The initial focus will be upon businesses in the Central African Republic, although this will soon expand to provide investments in smaller firms across the central African region.

Companies to benefit from funding of between $100,000 and $500,000 include those in the telecommunications, tourism and information technology sectors. "The Central Africa SME Fund is an important part of IFC's efforts to improve access to finance for entrepreneurs and create opportunities for people in places that need it the most," said Lars Thunell, Chief Executive Officer and Executive Vice-President of IFC.

IFC recently announced it will invest $8 million in the Regional Micro SME Investment Fund for sub-Saharan Africa.