Paris, March 27, 2007—IFC, the
private sector arm of the World Bank Group, today signed a partnership
agreement with two consulting firms to provide advisory services and capacity
building to financial institutions in Africa.
The partnership with Crédit Agricole
Consultants based in France and Environmental Quality International based
in Egypt is part of a recently announced $200 million integrated investment
and advisory services initiative, the Africa Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise
Finance Program. Through the program IFC will boost lending to smaller
businesses across Sub-Saharan Africa by investing in and providing capacity
building to banks in the region.
IFC is considering investing in 25 banks
in 17 countries across Africa in the first round of the program. Each investment
will be made with an extensive package of advisory services that aims to
raise the capacity of the partner banks to serve smaller enterprises. These
services will be provided by IFC-selected consulting companies with expertise
in promoting lending to smaller firms.
“Financial institutions in Africa are
recognizing that smaller businesses are a market opportunity,” said Lars
Thunell, head of IFC. “By working with international consulting firms
experienced in small and medium enterprise finance, IFC is helping local
banks meet the financing needs of smaller businesses.”
Crédit Agricole and Environmental Quality
International are the first consultants to be contracted under this initiative.
The two firms will provide support to Banque Agricole Commerciale du Burkina,
the first financial institution in Africa to benefit from the program.
The bank, which is one of the leading financial institutions in Burkina
Faso, recently signed a $6 million loan with IFC.
The consultants will implement a two
year advisory services program for Bank Agricole Commerciale du Burkina,
which will focus on helping the bank to increase its coverage, expand its
product offerings, especially in the small business segment, and improve
overall banking standards and practices, in areas such as credit risk management.
“Crédit Agricole Consultants has a
track record of developing SME focused products in emerging markets,”
said Jean-Luc Perron, vice president, European Affairs, Crédit Agricole
S.A. “We are delighted to extend our partnership with IFC and to lend
our considerable banking advisory expertise for the benefit of financial
institutions in Africa.”
“Our group has more than 20 years experience
in supporting microfinance institutions in Africa and the Middle East.
We are happy to partner with Crédit Agricole and IFC to provide joint support
to the first selected financial institution under the IFC Africa MSME program”,
said Mounir Neamatalla, chairman, Environmental Quality International.
IFC, the private sector arm of the World
Bank Group, promotes open and competitive markets in developing countries.
IFC supports sustainable private sector companies and other partners
in generating productive jobs and delivering basic services, so that people
have opportunities to escape poverty and improve their lives. Through FY06,
IFC Financial Products has committed more than $56 billion in funding for
private sector investments and mobilized an additional $25 billion in syndications
for 3,531 companies in 140 developing countries. IFC Advisory Services
and donor partners have provided more than $1 billion in program support
to build small enterprises, to accelerate private participation in infrastructure,
to improve the business enabling environment, to increase access to finance,
and to strengthen environmental and social sustainability. For more information,
please visit www.ifc.org.
About Crédit Agricole
Crédit Agricole Consultants is a subsidiary
of Crédit Agricole, the largest banking organisation in France with a presence
across the entire spectrum of banking and finance activities. It is the
European leader in terms of domestic market position and ranks number two
in Europe and number five in the world in terms of capital.
Crédit Agricole S.A. is responsible
for ensuring a consistent development strategy and financial unity throughout
the Crédit Agricole group. Crédit Agricole pursues a strategy of sustainable,
profitable growth through a unified approach between the Regional Banks
and the Group's specialist business line subsidiaries. The group has developed
a long standing relationship with IFC. Calyon, one of the group’s entities
is ranked among the top financial institutions partnering with IFC on its
B Loans program. Through its other entities, the group has partnered with
IFC in setting up leasing companies in several emerging countries.
About Environmental Quality International
Environmental Quality International
is a leading consulting firm based in Cairo, Egypt, specializing in environmental
management and design, and providing support and advisory services to small
and micro enterprises. Over the past 20 years, the firm has helped to establish
and develop over 20 non governmental organizations, micro finance institutions,
and banks in the Middle East and Eastern Africa. Environmental Quality
International will implement this assignment through its subsidiary, Quality
Finance International. The latter is a specialised firm that serves
microfinance providers across Africa and the Middle East, assisting them
to develop and deliver viable and profitable microfinance services. For
further information, visit www.qfiegypt.com.