Ecobank Ghana and Proparco, the private sector financing arm of AFD Group have signed a partnership agreement aimed at giving out up to GHS50 million in loans to micro, small and medium scale enterprises (MSMEs) in Ghana every quarter.
The partnership, which focuses on the “Choose Africa and ARIZ” initiatives was executed by Proparco, on behalf of the AFD Group and Ecobank, and it is aimed at enabling Ecobank Ghana to disburse the money to the MSMEs adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The focus is to also to create in excess of 50,000 jobs across Ghana.
Proparco and the Ecobank Group have a longstanding history of supporting the private sector in West Africa with a focus on small and medium-sized enterprises.
Following an analysis of financing data researched by Ecobank, companies with less than 200 employees affected by the pandemic will be eligible to apply for loans with maturities ranging between 12 and 60 months under the “Choose Africa Initiative.”
The loans, according to a joint statement by Ecobank and Proparco, could cumulatively account for up to three months of the 2019 turnovers of the beneficiary companies.
“This new resilience component of the French Choose Africa initiative has been made possible, thanks to support from the French Government,” the statement said.
Launched in November 2020 in response to the economic crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the EUR1billion Resilience component would bring assistance from the Choose Africa initiative supporting start-ups and MSMEs in Africa to a total disbursement of EUR 3.5billion. Since 2018, over EUR 2 billion of this amount has been deployed by the AFD Group under the French Choose Africa initiative.
H.E. Anne Sophie AVE, Ambassador of France to Ghana, commented that: “The French initiative Choose Africa launched in 2018, as well as its strengthening in 2020 in response to the crisis, testify to France’s strong commitment to African start-ups and MSMEs. Ghanaian entrepreneurs have demonstrated their resilience throughout the crisis, they will play a fundamental role in the country’s development, thus creating jobs and improving people’s access to essential goods and services.”
Proparco’s Country Representative for Ghana, Ange Pascal KOUASSI said: “Small and medium-sized enterprises are the backbone of African economies. The success of the Choose Africa initiative illustrates Proparco’s strong commitment to SMEs. We are happy to work with our partner Ecobank on the roll-out of our new initiatives specifically designed in response to the Covid-19 crisis.”
On his part, Regional Executive for Anglophone West Africa and Managing Director of Ecobank Ghana, Daniel Sackey, said: “Our partnership with the AFD Group begun in 2015 when Ecobank signed onto the ARIZ initiative to increase access to finance for MSMEs and Start-ups in Ghana. This initiative has since contributed immensely towards unlocking more than One Hundred Million Ghana Cedis (GHS100,000,000)on an annual basis in Term Loans to about a hundred (100) MSMEs within the Transport, Manufacturing, Agribusiness, ICT, Health, and Microfinance sectors across Ghana, and creating in excess of 20,000 jobs”.
Mr Sackey concluded that; “The Ecobank Group is indeed pleased to be signing onto the Choose Africa Resilience initiative with the AFD Group and Proparco today. This comes to complement our efforts at building capacity, increasing their access to market and providing tailored solutions to meet the specific needs of MSMEs. This is against the background that most MSMEs continue to evolve as consumer behaviour and engagements actively change and more people are accepting of the new ways of accessing goods and services, a positive fall out of COVID-19 pandemic. As a Pan-African bank, we believe it is our responsibility to help MSMEs sustain and grow their businesses further and contribute to the economic and social development of our economies. To this end, our deepest appreciation goes to the AFD Group and Proparco for their immense support, and commitment to partner with Ecobank to build resilient and sustainable indigenous businesses in Ghana”.
This signing ceremony further strengthens the partnership existing between these institutions and their desire and commitment to promoting the growth and development of MSMEs, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals.