Atlantic Business International (ABI), a holding company in sub-Saharan Africa of the Banque Centrale Populaire (BCP) group, and the European Investment Bank (EIB) have concluded a €65 million agreement to finance and support companies in Côte d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso and Senegal via the Banque Atlantique network. This agreement will expand cooperation between the BCP and the EIB to the region’s small and medium enterprise (SME) market.

The arrangement will finance projects by SMEs and mid-caps — with emphasis on those that play a significant role in job creation, with an overall objective of sustaining around 7 500 jobs.

The initiative is backed by the European Union, and reinforces the commitment of ABI and the EIB to the financial inclusion, empowerment and leadership of young people and women, as well as the economic development of the region.

ABI and the EIB were represented by Abdeslam Bennani, Managing Director of BCP International, and Ambroise Fayolle, Vice-President of the EIB, respectively.

Under this strategic partnership, the EIB loan to ABI will mobilise up to 130 million in financing for Ivoirian, Senegalese and Burkinabe companies, prioritising SMEs. At least 30% of the funds will benefit women and young people, reinforcing the parties’ commitment to diversity and inclusion.

By increasing the funds available to businesses, the EIB and ABI will extend the duration of available Banque Atlantique network financing, fostering the growth of a dynamic entrepreneurial environment and a robust and resilient economy.

The partnership also aligns with the criteria of the 2X Challenge initiative, furthering the gender objectives of the OECD by encouraging the active participation of women in the economic sector as entrepreneurs, managers, employees and consumers of products and services. It will be supplemented by technical assistance provided by the EIB to help ABI better account for the specific needs of female customers.

This is one of the first operations under the 2023-2027 agreement between the European Union and the EIB for private sector financing in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific.

Supported by the long-term partnership between the EIB and the BCP group, it also illustrates the commitment of the BCP group and its subsidiaries to economic development and the promotion of social inclusion on the African continent.

This partnership will further the African Union’s Agenda 2063, the external action of the European Union and its Multi-Annual Indicative Programme for Sub-Saharan Africa 2021-2027. It will support inclusive and job-creating economic growth on the continent, in line with the EU Multi-Annual Indicative Programmes in Côte d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso and Senegal. In particular, these programmes target improved access to finance and vocational training to increase the employability of young people, including girls, and to address skills needs, while reducing unemployment among young people at risk of migration.

At the signing ceremony, Managing Director of BCP International Abdeslam Bennani reaffirmed the BCP group’s commitment to African SMEs, and explained how the partnership with the Bank will further their development: “This partnership with the EIB demonstrates the commitment of the BCP group to supporting African companies through its banking subsidiaries, including the Banque Atlantique network. As a true engine of economic growth and social development, we believe in the potential of SMEs and mid-sized firms, and their ability to contribute decisively to job creation. This is why the group has made supporting companies one of its main lines of action, by offering bespoke financing solutions to better meet their needs. Thus, this funding will strengthen our efforts to promote financial inclusion, youth and women’s leadership, and private sector development in sub-Saharan Africa.”

“I am very pleased to be in Abidjan today to sign this financing agreement with Atlantic Business International. The objective of this important partnership is to enable Atlantic banks to strengthen their support for Ivoirian, Senegalese and Burkinabe businesses — mainly SMEs — especially by promoting access to finance for young people and women. We hope to fuel a new dynamic with the financial sector in West Africa to increase support for growth and jobs,” said EIB Vice-President Ambroise Fayolle.

“Obtaining bank financing remains a huge challenge for SMEs, and the banking sector faces great constraints in supporting them. I am confident that the EU guarantee put in place for the EIB to provide long-term financing to West Africa's financial sector will help unlock a financing hub for Ivoirian SMEs,” said Francesca Di Mauro, EU Ambassador to Côte d’Ivoire.

EU Ambassador to Senegal Jean-Marc Pisani added, “This financing agreement reflects the European Union’s constant commitment to supporting Senegal, and the development of a strong and dynamic private sector, which will lead to job creation and inclusive, sustainable growth. This new operation is one way we are strengthening support for SMEs, providing a targeted response to their financing difficulties and protecting their ability to contribute to Senegal’s growth and development.”

Background information

About the European Investment Bank

The EIB is the lending institution of the European Union and is owned by the Member States. It provides long-term financing for viable investment projects to achieve EU policy objectives.

The EIB has been a strong partner for African countries for more than 55 years. Through EIB Global, the Bank is strengthening its presence in Africa. Over the past decade, the EIB has provided more than €28 billion for investment in innovative technologies, green energy, water, education, agriculture, telecommunications, healthcare and businesses in 40 countries across the continent. Since 2019-2020 and the start of the pandemic alone, the EIB has provided more than €8.5 billion for new private and public investments across Africa.

EIB Global is the EIB Group's specialised arm devoted to increasing the impact of international partnerships and development finance. It is designed to foster a strong, focused partnership within Team Europe, alongside fellow development finance institutions and civil society. EIB Global brings the EIB Group closer to local people, companies and institutions through our offices around the world.

About Atlantic Business International

ABI is the sub-Saharan holding company of Banque Centrale Populaire (BCP). A financial group present in the eight countries of the UEMOA space and in Guinea, ABI occupies a key position in the region through its commercial banks (Banque Atlantique, BIA Niger and BCMG); its insurance companies (Atlantique Assurances Vie and IARD in Côte d’Ivoire, and GTA C2A Vie and IARD in Togo); and its specialised service providers (Atlantique Finance and Atlantic Asset Management). Atlantic Business International is UEMOA's third-largest group by market share.

About Banque Atlantique

The third-largest banking group in the UEMOA zone by market share, Banque Atlantique (a subsidiary of the BCP group) is present in all eight member countries of the monetary union (Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo). Banque Atlantique also relies on the specialised subsidiaries of the BCP group for merchant banking (Atlantique Finance), asset management (Atlantic Asset Management) and insurance (Atlantique Assurances and Atlantique Assurance Vie in Côte d’Ivoire, as well as GTA Assurances and GTA Assurances Vie in Togo).

About EU priorities in Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal

Launched at the end of 2021, the Global Gateway strategy is a European Commission initiative for the sustainable development of emerging partner countries in the fields of digital, sustainable agriculture, energy and transport; and for improving health, education and research systems around the world.

With the new Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument, also known as Global Europe, Team Europe — the European Union, its Member States (including their implementing agencies and public development banks) and the EIB — are mobilising the private sector to promote local added value, sustainable growth and job creation. In identifying, co-financing and carrying out concrete projects, the private sector plays a key role in operationalising this strategy on the ground in Côte d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso and Senegal.