The International Finance Corporation, IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, has estimated that in Africa, small and medium enterprises, SMEs, face a financing gap of over $136 billion annually.
Oumar Seydi, IFC Director for Africa Region, disclosed this on Tuesday, while addressing entrepreneurs at the SME and Banking Africa Forum in Kigali, Rwanda to facilitate opportunities for the public sector and financial institutions to unlock the potentials of African SMEs.
According to him, access to finance and financial inclusion play a critical role in enabling SMEs contribute to development.
He stated: “SMEs positively impact growth, equitable income distribution and poverty reduction in developing economies. Accessible and inclusive financial products and services will help SMEs realize their potential. To address this challenge IFC has developed a suite of innovative tools aimed at promoting financial inclusion and fostering access to finance.”
He said that Small and medium enterprises account for 90 percent of all businesses in Africa, driving growth and development in the region.
He added: “IFC is supporting innovative approaches to improving financial inclusion for SMEs such as digital financial services, through which an IFC program has helped more than seven million people open digital bank accounts.”
Didier Acouetey, founder of AfricSearch and the SME & Banking Africa Forum, said: “The forum offers a unique ecosystem for SMEs as it facilitates access to funding, expertise and to new business opportunities across the continent. This year, there is a special focus on innovation in SMEs to boost their growth and improve their competitiveness”
According to him, IFC is partnering with public and private sector actors to support the development of small and medium sized enterprises to address the employment crisis and promote entrepreneurship across Africa.