The African Development Bank (AfDB) has called on financial credit providers to increase lending to Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in Africa to 135 billion U.S. dollars.
A statement issued by Mr. Emeka Anuforo, the Communications Officer of the Bank, in Abuja on Wednesday said that increasing affordable loans would promote the growth of MSMEs on the continent.
The statement quoted Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, the President of AfDB, as saying that although Africa had the highest percentage of adults starting or running new businesses in the world, the productivity nonetheless remained low.
Adesina solicited a holistic policy approach to strengthen entrepreneurship to facilitate Africa’s industrialisation and tackle the myriad financial constraints facing small-scale businesses.
“The entrepreneurial culture is vibrant, with about 80 per cent of Africans viewing entrepreneurship as a good career opportunity.
“New industrialisation strategies should focus on leveraging this dynamism and targeting the continent’s fast-growing private enterprises which have potential to create quality jobs.
“Given Africa’s potential for increased involvement in this sector, AfDB is also increasing its efforts to promote access to finance for entrepreneurs to create start-ups and expand existing businesses,” he said.
Adesina said that the bank in 2016 provided financial services to 156,000 owners and operators of MSMEs via financial intermediaries to address a key challenge facing efforts to start and grow businesses.
He said that AfDB had collaborated with USAID, the Fund for Africa Private Sector Assistance and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) to build the capacity of SMEs in Zambia.
He said that the partnership was to enable the nation’s financial institutions to become efficient in lending to smaller businesses.
According to him, the bank is also launching some new programmes that are designed to help Africa to attain its industrialisation goals.
Adesina said that the bank was also collaborating with the European Investment Bank and the European Commission to help create and grow 1,500 innovative businesses, while creating 25 000 direct jobs and 100,000 indirect jobs.
He said that the collaboration would also improve environmental, social and management practices in youth-owned SMEs across Africa.