The African Development Bank (AfDB), says its interventions have contributed to creation of more than 440,000 jobs in Nigeria, with women and youths accounting for 60 per cent.
Dr Akinwunmi Adesina, the president of AfDB said this at the African Small and Medium Enterprise (SMEs) Immersion Fund Roundtable in Lagos.
The roundtable with the theme, “Enhancing the Capabilities of MSMES in Africa:The Role of Direct Foreign Investments (DFIs)’’ was organised by Access Bank PLC.
Adesina was represented by Mr Lamin Barrow, Director-General of the Nigeria Country Department of AfDB.
Adesina said the bank had supported more than 20,500 MSMEs, with about eight LOCs targeting SMEs and valued at 1.1 billion dollars.
According to him, the bank has also inaugurated the Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA).
“This is a flagship initiative to close the 42 billion dollar access to finance gap for women led and owned SMEs.
“Through AFAWA, the bank will facilitate up to five billion dollars in credit access to women SMEs by 2026.
“This will be achieved by enhancing access to financial services by leveraging our LOCs, trade finance and equity participations.
“This is to ensure that a percentage of these investments are targeting women empowered SMEs.
“To date, more than 800 million dollars in investments has been approved for on-lending to 3,000 women SMEs in 23 African countries, including Nigeria.’’
Adesina said the initiatives were part of the bank’s effort to support African countries in modernising their business enabling environments for MSMEs to thrive.
According to him, access to finances by MSMEs will be done through equity participation and debt financing for regional development banks and specialised financial institutions.
“In line with the Private Sector Development Strategy (2021-2025) Pillar on Enterprise Development, our lines of credit interventions are increasing.
“They are more targeted to support the development of regional value chains and clusters with strong linkages to MSMEs through off-taker and others to de-risk the eco-system,’’ he said.
Adesins said AfDB’s financial sector development strategy was focused on some pillars.
He said one of the pillars was expanding access to mainly MSMEs operating in the informal sector and fostering development of domestic capital markets and financial institutions.
The AfDB president said, “the bank’s support to enhance the capacity of SMSEs and financial drive inclusion covers thematic areas
like access to credit.
“This is provided through an array of instruments, including loans, guarantees and equity participation in Financial Intermediaries (FIs), including banks, SMEs-focused private equity and venture capital funds among others.
“Our Africa SMEs programme will channel 150 million dollars funding to SMEs across Africa to enhance financial inclusion while also addressing barriers to SMEs funding.”
Adesina said besides ensuring access to finance, the bank was implementing three flagship programmes to support the venture capital industry in Africa.
“The Boost Africa Programme, a 170 million Euro facility is being implemented in partnership with the European Commission and European Investment Bank.
“It seeks to promote entrepreneurship and innovation across Africa and adopts an integrated approach combining seed funding, technical assistance and an entrepreneurship and innovation lab.
“Also, there is the Social Impact Investment Programme for Africa (SIIPA).
“This 50 million Euro programme seeks to support social entrepreneurs to provide solutions for the local communities, often related to better and affordable access to finance, health, education among others.
“Furthermore, we have the Investment in Digital and Creative Enterprises Programme (i-DICE) co-financed by Agence Française de Développement (AFD) and the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB).
“It is a 618 million dollar flagship initiative seeking to promote entrepreneurship and innovation in the digital and creative industries.’’
According to Adesina, the i-DICE programme is expected to stimulate investments in 226 technology and creative start-ups.
He further said the programme would provide non-financial services to 450 digital technology and SMEs in order to create 6.1 million direct and indirect jobs.
Another strategy deployed by the bank in supporting MSMEs, according to him is digital financial inclusion.
He said the ADFI would deploy 400 million dollars in grants and loans by 2030 to ensure that 332 million people had access to finance.
On creating enabling environment, Adesina said the bank was working with governments and other development partners to identify policy reforms needed to boost MSMEs.
On impact of the roundtable organised by Access Bank PLC, he said it would help provide funding, risk sharing and non-financial services to MSMEs.
He said this would be done through proposed one billion dollars SMEs Immersion Fund for Africa.
Adesina said the private sector landscape in Africa was dominated by MSMEs, which constituted the backbone of African economies.
He said through MSMEs investments, innovation and trading activities, MSMEs had fostered inclusive growth and job creation.
“In Nigeria for instance, MSMEs employ about 77 per cent of the workforce.
“This workforce is dominated by women who face greater challenges in accessing affordable finance and non-financial services.
“This is due to gender biases in property rights that limit their ability to collateralise their loans,” he said.
On growth of MSMEs, he said the subsector had been constrained by many factors.
Adesina said they were faced with poor access to affordable finance, perception of high default risk, information asymmetries and other challenges related to their informal nature.
He also said disruptions to global and regional supply chains and tightened financing conditions due to COVID-19 pandemic were responsible for challenges faced by MSMEs in Africa.
“As providers of term finance and other non-financial services, Development Finance Institutions (DFIs) have a crucial role to play,” he said.
He expressed AfDB’s commitment to engaging with Access Bank and other stakeholders in supporting the proposed SMEs Immersion Fund for Africa.
According to him, the bank will continue to deploy its array of instruments, and leverage its initiatives and strategic partnerships to support the development of MSMEs in Africa.