France launched on Friday, 29th of March 2019 an initiative to develop African businesses via a combination of credits, loan guarantees and direct investment worth a total 2.5 Billion Euros ($2.8 Billion). The “Choose Africa” plan follows a pledge by French President Emmanuel Macron in November 2017 to help small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) grow on the continent, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said as he and Senegalese counterpart Amadou Ba kicked off the scheme.
“I am happy to launch this new phase of partnership” aimed at meeting African demographic and environmental challenges in the coming decades, Le Maire said. What holds African companies back, he added, “is the problem of financing. SMEs need stable, flexible and solid financing. Choose Africa will provide access to the financing you need.”
The total amount breaks down into roughly 1.5 Billion Euros in credit lines and loan guarantees, and 1.0 Billion in direct investment, according to a document seen by AFP. The initiative is aimed at nearly 10,000 African companies via French development agency AFD and its private sector financing-arm, Proparco.
Details of the plan were not revealed, but the AFD website said it would help start-ups scale up innovative ideas, and align high-potential SMEs with private partners. Ba said that in Africa, “only one SME in five, and one start-up in 10 have access to bank credits”, while Le Maire predicted that such enterprises would be key to providing jobs for 450 million people by 2050.