The development of the private sector in Africa is essential for the sustainable development of the continent. It is generally accepted that business creates wealth, generates jobs and thus contributes to improving the living conditions of the populations; while being able to increasingly ensure the preservation of natural resources, biodiversity and climate and promoting the emancipation of women.
A sustainable strengthening of the economic fabric in Africa therefore implies addressing the challenges faced by African entrepreneurs. Among these obstacles, poor access to credit is a major constraint to private sector development, particularly for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), intermediate-sized enterprises (ISEs) and start-ups. While large companies are well served and microenterprises have benefited from microfinance, there is a missing middle - made up of SMEs, ETIs and start-ups - that suffer from credit rationing. The current instruments used by donors are inadequate to promote the financing of this missing middle. Yet, these companies are at the heart of structural change in African economies.
The panel aimed to establish a precise diagnosis of the difficulties of financing the "missing middle" in Africa to propose ways to improve it.
On the one hand, based on the Ferdi study (presented at the beginning of the webinar and soon available on the Foundation's website), the panelists were seeking to identify the main obstacles to financing SMEs, ETIs and start-ups in Africa. The aim was to better understand the current difficulties of financing the missing middle. The low access to credit is not only due to the weakness of African firms (demand-side) but also because of an inadequate supply of financing (supply-side).
On the other hand, the findings allow us to draw up avenues of reflection to improve the financing of the private sector in Africa. To this end, the panelists discussed their experiences with both public and private funding institutions and the gaps that exist in the current arrangements.
This webinar was an opportunity to draw concrete recommendations to donors to improve the financing of private enterprises in Africa as part of the Summit on Financing African Economies.
Jean-Marc Gravellini (Ferdi) and Florian Léon (Ferdi)
Round table discussion
Moderator: Jean-Marc Gravellini, Senior Fellow Ferdi, former Executive Director of AFD