Second Meeting of MFW4A Network of WAEMU SME Support Agencies
Network members acknowledged that the network SA-PME/UEMOA has been instrumental in raising the profile of SME support agencies across the region.The second ordinary meeting WAEMU SME support agencies network (SA-PME/UEMOA: a working group of MFW4A Secretariat) was held on 19-20 March in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire hosted by the Secretariat and the Institut National Ivoirien de l'Entreprise (INIE). The meeting was opened by the representative of the Ivoirian Minister of Commerce, Handicraft and SMEs. Member institutions discussed progress in their activities and the implementation of the network's work plan since the Inaugural meeting in October 2013 in Cotonou, Benin. The members acknowledged that the network SA-PME/UEMOA has been very instrumental in raising the profile of SME support agencies across the region. A typical example is the round of consultations members had with the BCEAO (regional central bank) and the role foreseen for SME support agencies in the framework of a comprehensive regional programme currently under design at the instruction of the WAEMU Head of States Council. The meeting also demonstrated the need to build efficient communication channels within the financial sector (banks, stock exchange, etc.). Furthermore, the network provides SME support agencies in the region with a unique platform for information sharing on their tools, products and sharing best practices. Following the Senegalese Agency for the Support of Small and Medium Enterprise (ADEPME), which successfully tested a scoring system, a similar initiative led by the Chamber of Commerce will be introduced in Cote d'Ivoire (projet Champions). In terms of institutional development, the Maison de l'Entreprise du Niger (MEN) was established with the support of the World Bank as an autonomous public entity to perform duties until recently entrusted with the Ministry. MEN is expected to play a proactive role in mentoring SMEs. In Cote d'Ivoire, the plans are also well advanced to reinforce the INIE. The participants commended the Secretariat for the launch of the Online Collaborative Platform (OCP) and showed interest for the tool. However, internet connectivity and speed is the major obstacle for its regular use. The members renewed the mandate of the incumbent Chair of the Network (General Manager of ANPME, Benin) for a one year term and agreed on following priorities:
- To carry out high-level dialogue missions to the BCEAO, WAEMU Commission and possibly the African Development Bank;
- To undertake actions towards institutionalizing the network and setting up of a proper Secretariat; and
- To kick start a programme of study visits funded on a cost-sharing basis between the members and the MFW4A Secretariat.