Nigeria’s vast array of dynamic and creative entrepreneurs will be major beneficiaries of the additional €1 Billion that has been raised by France to provide credit facilities for African businesses through the Choose Africa Initiative.
Franck Riester, French Minister of Foreign Trade and Attractiveness, disclosed on Wednesday that an additional €1 billion has been raised to fund the Choose Africa Initiative in order to provide credit facilities for businesses, particularly the Micro, Small and Medium-scale Enterprises (MSMEs).
In his address at the Choose Africa Initiative beneficiaries feedback forum in Lagos, Riester explained that although €2.5 billion was dedicated to financing and supporting 10,000 African MSMEs by 2022, the additional €1 billion was raised in order to mitigate the various disruptions occasioned by the COVID-19 outbreak. “With the initial €2 Billion, 16,000 businesses and thousands of micro-entrepreneurs would be financed, 20,000 direct jobs will be maintained or created while 1.4 million indirect jobs will be maintained or created,” he said.
Riester said that France was ready to help Nigeria develop and achieve its operations, noting that Lagos has vast amount of dynamic and creative entrepreneurs and as such, major beneficiaries of the fund will be Nigerian businesses. “In Nigeria, Proparco’s operations especially aim at financing SMEs in the education sector and the renewable energy or energy-efficient projects, as well as SMEs, set up by women. Corporate financing is a pressing issue which France wants to tackle.
“Our ambition is to craft a new sustainable financing framework aimed at fostering fair and long-term growth across the economy,” he said. The minister urged that it is necessary to build more bridges between companies and businesses in both countries, particularly among the MSMEs, in order to build a strong long-term economic partnership beneficial to both countries.
Riester said that efforts are being made to improve the programme, which is why a Choose Africa Forum will be held in July in Montpellier, adding that the forum will also move to develop ties that bind the French and African business communities. The Choose Africa Initiative powered by Proparco, launched in November 2017, provides credit, direct loans and equity financing directly and indirectly for entrepreneurs through venture capital funds, with the aim of easing the difficulties experienced by SMEs in obtaining loans.
Olamipe Seriki, regional head, Global Financial Institutions & EMDOS, UBA, mentioned during a fireside chat that the Choose Africa Initiative has helped a lot of businesses but additional liquidity support was required. She, however, noted that heightened risk on the expected cash flows of the businesses has been observed, necessitating the introduction of additional products for risk mitigation. This, she said, would be very helpful for both the beneficiaries and credit managers.