The African Development Bank (AfDB) and AccessBank Liberia Ltd (ABL) have signed a technical assistance partnership agreement that would boost small and medium sized (SMEs) businesses in the country.
The agreement is expected to enhance ABL’s reach to Liberian Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), and is supported by a grant from the Fund for Africa Private Sector Assistance (FAPA).
FAPA is a multi-donor thematic trust fund that provides grant funding for technical assistance and capacity building to support implementation of the Bank’s Private Sector Development Strategy.
The Governments of Japan and Austria and the African Development Bank are active contributors to the fund, which to date has provided over 46 Million to 57 projects in 38 countries across the African continent.
The FAPA portfolio includes regional and national projects aimed at improving the business environment, strengthening financial systems, building private sector infrastructure, promotion of trade and development of SMEs.
At the signing ceremony yesterday, Ms. Margaret Kilo, Resident Representative of the AfDB in Liberia, revealed that there are around 10,000 formally registered SMEs operating in the country, while many of them (SMEs) continue to operate informally.
Ms. Kilo said that Liberia’s MSMEs face a number of constraints to profitability and growth including a lack of access to finance. Without such finance, these firms face significant difficulties to expand and enhance their operations, which would allow them to employ more individuals and contribute towards Liberia’s development and growth.
She asserted that the Ebola virus exacerbated the challenges faced by Liberian MSMEs, and this support will help reinvigorate the sector. “It will also increase the capacity of the SME sector to provide services to the government and concessions sectors.”
Commenting further on the partnership, Ms. Kilo said: “We look forward to continuing our partnership with Access Bank Liberia, to help address the challenges MSME faces in accessing finance. She indicated Access Bank provides loans and banking services that help develop a vibrant private sector and increase incomes and employment.
The acting CEO of AccessBank Liberia, Dusko Dimitrov, said that: “AccessBank Liberia would like to extend its deepest gratitude for AfDB’s ongoing support of AccessBank and the MSME sector in Liberia.
These funds will allow the Bank to extend its outreach as the only dedicated MSME lender in the country. AccessBank sees access to finance as an essential point of development for Liberia and its citizens and will continue to strive towards making banking services available to all members of society.”
The partnership with ABL falls under the AfDB’s overall Financial Sector Development Strategy (2014-2019), which focuses on accelerating Africa’s transformation.
The strategy seeks to: expand access to basic financial services; provide financial products and services to support the gradual transition to green growth of the real economy; improve financial infrastructure; enhance regional financial integration; enrich corporate governance; focus on entrepreneurship and innovation to foster private sector development; and build financial skills.