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IFC Partnership with Crédit Agricole Helps Financial Institutions in Africa Build Management Capacity, Increase Efficiency


In Johannesburg
Daniel Musiitwa
Phone:  +27 (83) 455-5477
Email: dmusiitwa@ifc.org

In Washington, DC
Cynthia Case McMahon
Phone +1 (202) 473-6287
Email: ccase@ifc.org

In Cairo
Riham Mustafa
Phone: +20 (2) 461-9150
Email: rmustafa@ifc.org


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.


About IFC
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.

In Paris
Alain Berry
Phone +33 (1) 4323-5944
Email: Alain.berry@credit-agricole-sa.fr