The EIB fosters access to finance and financial sector development in ACP, notably through intermediated lending operations implemented under the Cotonou Investment Facility (IF). This evaluation assesses the extent to which EIB intermediated lending through the IF has contributed to improving access to finance for small and medium-sized enterprises and small initiatives and strengthening local financial sectors in ACP countries.
- Intermediated lending operations have addressed an important barrier constraining access to finance, namely the unavailability of long-term liquidity, particularly in local currency.
- Intermediated lending strengthened financial sectors, primarily through the financing of local second tier banks. Longer term local currency loans allowed financial intermediaries to mitigate their maturity and currency mismatches.
- The EIB’s processes and procedures are effective at managing risks and at swiftly delivering signatures and disbursements, but monitoring and reporting are found to be insufficient to track and demonstrate policy results. Current EIB reporting on a list of allocations provides little information as to whether an operation incentivised the intermediary to progress towards increasing access to finance for SMEs.
Areas for improvement
- Continue to explore the use of instruments that address not only liquidity constraints but also barriers relating to the risk of lending to SMEs and to weaknesses in the capacity of financial intermediaries and SMEs. When relevant, the EIB should also continue to explore possibilities for coordination with partner institutions that address legal and regulatory barriers.
- Request the IF Committee to confirm the types of final beneficiaries and objectives it wishes to prioritise through intermediated lending.
- Integrate IF objectives, particularly those relating to increasing access to finance, throughout the project cycle.
- Adapt tools and processes to improve monitoring and reporting of IF policy objectives.