To support a stronger private sector, entrepreneurship and the growth of small and medium-sized businesses across Africa, African, European, multilateral and bilateral partners today launched the Alliance for Entrepreneurship in Africa (AforE).

The Alliance will combine and focus the technical and financial strengths of its members to improve Africa’s business environment and support the growth and success of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), women in business and young entrepreneurs. In addition to its core members, the Alliance aims to bring together multilateral and bilateral development banks, bilateral donors and African national development banks.

The Alliance was first announced at the Summit on Financing of African Economies in Paris in May 2021.

Alliance core members include the African Development Bank (AfDB); the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD); the European Investment Bank (EIB); the European Development Finance Institutions (EDFI); the French Treasury; the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and Proparco, the private sector financing arm of Agence Française de Développement Group (AFD Group).

The launch of the Alliance comes as African economies recover and rebuild from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, with small businesses seen as important drivers of job creation, innovation and the delivery of essential goods and services.

The creation of the Alliance reflects the strong commitment of African, European, multilateral and bilateral institutions, in coordination with the African Union, European Commission and others, to bolster Africa’s private sector amid ongoing African and global economic challenges.

Alliance members today signed the working arrangement for the Alliance. IFC will serve as the Alliance Secretariat helping to coordinate the activities and operationalize the initiative in partnership with the French Treasury.

“Small businesses and entrepreneurs in Africa are drivers of inclusive growth, economic stability and resilience. Supporting their growth will be critical to creating jobs and helping Africa recover from the COVID-19 crisis. And the Alliance for Entrepreneurship in Africa stands ready to do that. IFC is proud to be part of this initiative, which deepens the partnership between international partners to give small businesses the support they need and deserve,” said Makhtar Diop, IFC’s Managing Director.

Solomon Quaynor, the African Development Bank’s Vice President for the Private Sector, Infrastructure and Industrialization, said: “Micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises are vital to Africa’s prosperity. They represent 90% of all businesses and generate more than half of all jobs. Supporting existing businesses and the ecosystem for entrepreneurs to create innovative new ones lies at the heart of our private sector development strategy. The African Development Bank is committed to the Alliance for Entrepreneurship in Africa. We want to ensure that African entrepreneurs have the means to thrive and can play an important part in solving Africa’s development challenges.”

Odile Renaud Basso, EBRD President, said: “The EBRD is committed to supporting financially and technically small businesses in the North African countries where it invests, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia and soon Algeria. We offer an extensive suite of financial tools and advisory programme that we put at the service of small and medium enterprises and by joining forces with partners in Alliance we can archive a better impact on the economic growth of these countries.”

“Ensuring that African entrepreneurs and companies can access finance is crucial to accelerate growth and create jobs. Over the last two years EIB has been very active to support financial institutions that help SMEs particularly hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. We are pleased to be a core member of the Alliance for Entrepreneurship in Africa. This initiative combines the financial and technical strengths and local insight of African and international partners and together we can ensure a better future for African business,” said Ambroise Fayolle, European Investment Bank Vice President.

“The European DFIs welcome the opportunity to join hands with international and African partners to boost entrepreneurial growth in Africa. EDFI member institutions have been able to increase financing for SMEs across Africa, demonstrating our commitment to this important priority. The deeper collaboration through this new alliance can help mobilise even more investment in the inclusive development of Africa’s private sector,” said Søren Peter Andreasen, CEO at EDFI.

“Proparco is proud to count among the founding members of the Alliance for Entrepreneurship in Africa. Proparco has long been committed to supporting African entrepreneurs and will build on the expertise acquired through the French initiative Choose Africa to contribute to this new global Alliance,” said Gregory Clemente, CEO of Proparco.

“Last May, the international community gathered in Paris at the Summit on the Financing of African Economies to devise jointly actions that will help boost a strong and inclusive recovery in Africa, grounded in a dynamic private sector. Today, we are proud to deliver with the official launch of the Alliance for entrepreneurship in Africa, gathering prominent development partners to support private sector development in Africa, as the main driver for growth and job creation. We will remain committed in the implementation phase to deliver on the ground, mobilize additional financing, promote tangible and high value added projects developed by the Alliance core members, with the objective to effectively make a difference for African SMEs through innovative financial products,” said Mr. Emmanuel Moulin, Director General of the Treasury.

Through a private-sector focused cooperation platform, the Alliance will support the roll-out of new initiatives to expand financing options for Africa’s SMEs, which cite a lack of access to finance as a major constraint to growth. According to the World Bank, SMEs account for up to 90 percent of all businesses in sub-Saharan Africa and represent 38 percent of the region’s GDP. Prior to COVID-19, IFC estimated the funding gap faced by SMEs in the region at $331 billion.

In addition to financing projects, the Alliance will support reforms aimed at strengthening the business and investment climate across Africa and facilitate the growth of private sector initiatives in more sustainable green and digital sectors.

Banking and non-banking financial institutions, other public and private sector organizations (such as foundations, philanthropic organizations, venture capital firms), and business and innovation training providers (including incubators, accelerators, universities), may also join the Alliance.

Background information

About IFC
IFC—a member of the World Bank Group—is the largest global development institution focused on the private sector in emerging markets. We work in more than 100 countries, using our capital, expertise, and influence to create markets and opportunities in developing countries. In fiscal year 2020, we invested $22 billion in private companies and financial institutions in developing countries, leveraging the power of the private sector to end extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity. For more information, visit www.ifc.org.

About African Development Bank (AfDB)

The African Development Bank (AfDB) Group is Africa's premier development finance institution with a mandate to spur sustainable economic development and social progress in the continent, thereby contributing to poverty reduction. The Bank Group achieves this objective by mobilizing and allocating resources for investment into the continent and providing policy advice and technical assistance to support development efforts. The African Development Bank's authorized capital of around USD 208 billion is subscribed to by 81 member countries made up of 54 African countries and 27 non-African countries. For more information, visit www.afdb.org

About EBRD

The EBRD is a multilateral bank that promotes the development of the private sector and entrepreneurial initiative in 38 economies across three continents. The Bank is owned by 71 countries as well as the EU and the EIB. EBRD investments are aimed at making the economies in its regions competitive, inclusive, well-governed, green, resilient and integrated

About EIB
The European Investment Bank (“EIB”) Group is the lending arm of the European Union. EIB Global is the EIB Group’s new specialised arm dedicated to increasing the impact of international partnerships and development finance.  EIB Global is designed to foster strong, focused partnership within Team Europe, alongside fellow development finance institutions, and civil society. EIB Global brings the Group closer to local people, companies and institutions through our offices across the world

EDFI – the Association of European Development Finance Institutions – was established in 1992 to support and promote the work of bilateral Development Finance Institutions (DFIs). With a combined portfolio of €44 billion, including over €10 billion of climate finance, EDFI’s 15 member institutions share a vision of a world where the private sector offers people in low and middle-income countries opportunities for decent work and improved lives, and where private investment flows are aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Climate Agreement. EDFI’s mission is to promote the joint interests of its members, inform policy, and drive innovation in industry standards. EDFI’s membership includes BIO (Belgium), CDC Group (UK), Cofides (Spain), DEG (Germany), Finnfund (Finland), FMO (The Netherlands), IFU (Denmark), Norfund (Norway), OeEB (Austria), Proparco (France), SIFEM (Switzerland), Simest and CDP Development Finance (Italy), SOFID (Portugal), Swedfund (Sweden). www.edfi.eu

About Proparco

Proparco is the private sector financing arm of Agence Française de Développement Group (AFD Group). It has been promoting sustainable economic, social and environmental development for over 40 years. Proparco provides funding and support to both businesses and financial institutions in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle-East. Its action focuses on the key development sectors: infrastructure, mainly for renewable energies, agribusiness, financial institutions, health and education. Its operations aim to strengthen the contribution of private players to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by the international community in 2015. To this end, Proparco finances companies whose activity contributes to creating jobs and decent incomes, providing essential goods and services and combating climate change. For a World in Common. For further information: www.proparco.fr 

Directorate General of the Treasury
The Directorate General of the Treasury is one of the main Directorates General of the French Ministry of the Economy, Finance and the Recovery, in charge of advising the French Government on domestic and international economic, commercial and financial policy.