IFC and Bank of Africa group deepen partnership to boost SME financing in Africa

Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, April 3, 2023 — To support economic activity and job creation in 10 countries across sub-Saharan Africa, IFC today announced an investment in a risk-sharing facility for the Bank of Africa Group (BOA) that will ease access to finance for smaller businesses, including those in fragile and conflict-affected countries and in the Sahel.

Photo: IFC

IFC will invest $77 million in the risk-sharing facility to scale up BOA’s lending to small and medium enterprises (SMEs), including women-owned businesses, in Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Madagascar, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Tanzania, and Togo. IFC’s investment will guarantee 50 percent of an aggregate loan portfolio of up to $154 million equivalent to businesses in the agriculture, trade, energy, construction, and other sectors.

Through the facility, BOA is expected to make 12,000 new loans, of which at least 2,000 will be to women-owned businesses, which often face greater barriers accessing finance. IFC will also provide advisory services to help BOA strengthen its portfolio of women-owned SMEs across its affiliates in the ten countries.

“The asset transformation to increase our exposure to SMEs constitutes one of the three pillars of our strategy. Indeed, we are convinced of the driving role of SMEs. We thank IFC’s initiative that will help BOA to boost our SMEs penetration with more strength and confidence,” said Amine Bouabid, Group Chief Executive Officer of BOA.


“Ramping up access to finance for SMEs is pivotal when macroeconomic headwinds and supply chains disruptions are hampering growth, innovation, and economic activity in Africa, particularly in fragile, conflict-affected and low-income countries,” said Aliou Maiga, IFC’s Regional Industry Director for the Financial Institutions Group in Africa. “IFC’s deepening partnership with BOA reflects our strategy to support financial inclusion, access to credit, and more broadly, private sector development on the continent.”

“As we celebrate the 15th anniversary of Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women initiative, we are pleased to continue to empower female entrepreneurs to accelerate growth and recharge their businesses through access to capital,” said Charlotte Keenan, Global Director of Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women. “We look forward to supporting Bank of Africa Group as it expands lending to women-owned businesses across sub-Saharan Africa.”

Accounting for up to 90 percent of all businesses in sub-Saharan Africa and representing 38 percent of the region’s GDP, SMEs are the backbone of African economies. However, many SMEs are held back by a lack of access to finance. According to World Bank enterprise surveys data, the SME finance gap in the ten target countries is $21 billion and that 53 percent of SMEs are either partially or fully credit constrained.

IFC’s investment is supported by the Global SME Finance Facility (GSMEF), a blended finance partnership with donor funding from the United Kingdom and the Dutch Government; the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi); and the Women Entrepreneurs Opportunity Facility launched by IFC through its Banking on Women Program, and Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women.

Today’s announcement builds on a 2018 multi-country risk sharing facility IFC established with BOA, with GSMEF’s support, to encourage smaller business growth in eight African countries.

The project also aligns with IFC’s pledge to support the reduction of the SMEs financing gap in sub-Saharan Africa under the Alliance for Entrepreneurship in Africa.

About IFC

IFC — a member of the World Bank Group — is the largest global development institution focused on the private sector in emerging markets. IFC works in more than 100 countries, using its capital, expertise, and influence to create markets and opportunities in developing countries. In fiscal year 2022, IFC committed a record $32.8 billion to private companies and financial institutions in developing countries, leveraging the power of the private sector to end extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity as economies grapple with the impacts of global compounding crises. For more information, visit www.ifc.org.

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About Bank of Africa Group
BANK OF AFRICA Group (BOA Group) is currently present in 19 countries: 8 in West Africa (Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Mali, Niger, Togo and Senegal), 8 in East Africa and the Indian Ocean region (Burundi, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania), Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo and France. The BOA Group network of 18 commercial banks, 1 global holding company, 2 regional holding companies, 1 investment company, 2 technical support subsidiaries, 2 processing and IT support companies, and 1 representative office in Addis Ababa. BANK OF AFRICA Group has been majority-owned by BMCE Bank (whose name recently changed to BANK OF AFRICA), the 3rd largest bank in Morocco. BMCE Bank brings strong strategic and operational support to BANK OF AFRICA Group, as well as direct access to international markets in view of its presence in Europe and Asia. Established 40 years ago in Mali, BOA Group currently has a total of about 6,500 employees. In the year ended 31 December 2021, the Group recorded a consolidated balance sheet of 9.4 billion Euros and consolidated net income of 164.5 million Euros.

About We-Fi

The Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi) is a collaborative partnership among the 14 governments that have made financial contributions, six multilateral development banks that serve as implementing partners, and other public and private stakeholders. We-Fi was formally established in October 2017 as a Financial Intermediary Fund hosted by the World Bank. We-Fi invests in programs and projects that help unlock billions of dollars in financing to address the full range of barriers facing women entrepreneurs—increasing access to finance, markets, technology, and mentoring, while strengthening policy, legal and regulatory frameworks. As one of the We-Fi Implementing Partners, IFC supports private sector clients with investment and advisory services to expand financial services and market access for women-owned/led firms, as well as increasing the capacity of women entrepreneurs to run high-growth businesses. For more information, visit www.we-fi.org.

About Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women

Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women is an ongoing initiative to foster economic growth by providing women entrepreneurs around the world with a business and management education and access to capital. The initiative has reached over 200,000 women from over 150 countries. In partnership with the International Finance Corporation (IFC), Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women launched the first-of-its-kind global finance facility in 2014 to enable access to capital to more women entrepreneurs. The 10,000 Women in-person business education program was launched in 2008, reaching over 10,000 women across 15 countries around the world, and in 2018, the 10,000 Women curriculum was made available online through Coursera, further democratizing access to a business education in more corners of the world. For more information on Goldman Sachs’ investment in female entrepreneurs, visit: https://www.goldmansachs.com/citizenship/10000women/


The Global SME Finance Facility, a blended-finance partnership funded by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) and the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is focused on helping to close the financing gap faced by SMEs in emerging markets. Catalyzing access to finance for SMEs, the facility has a goal of generating one million new jobs in the SME sector. For more information, visit www.ifc.org/gsmef.

This article was originally published by IFC