The African Development Bank or AfDB and Access Bank Liberia Ltd or ABL yesterday, August 6, signed a technical assistance partnership agreement at the AFDB country head office in Sophia, oldest Congo Town, outside Monrovia.
“While there are around 10,000 formally registered SMEs operating in Liberia, many businesses continued to operate informally; Liberia’s MSMEs face a number of constraints to profitability and growth, including lack of access to finance. Without such finance, these firms face significant difficulties to expand and enhance their operations, which would allow them to employ more individuals and contribute towards Liberia’s development and growth, “ said Ms. Margaret Kilo – the AFDB Resident Representative in Liberia, further indicating that “the Ebola crisis has exacerbated the challenges faced by Liberian MSMEs, and that this support will help reinvigorate the sector, as well as also increase the capacity of the SME sector to provide services to the government and concessions sectors.”
She said the partnership, which is expected to enhance ABL’s reach to Liberian Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises or MSMEs, is supported by a grant from the Fund for Africa Private Sector Assistance or FAPA.
“We look forward to continuing our partnership with Access Bank Liberia, which helps address the challenges MSME faces in accessing finance. Access Bank provides loans and banking services that help develop a vibrant private sector and increase incomes and employment,” Ms. Kilo added.
According to her, the partnership with ABL falls under the AfDB’s overall Financial Sector Development Strategy (2014-2019), which focuses on accelerating Africa’s transformation, stressing that the strategy seeks to expand access to basic financial services, provide financial products and services to support the gradual transition to green growth of the real economy, improve financial infrastructure, enhance regional financial integration, enrich corporate governance, focus on entrepreneurship and innovation to foster private sector development and build financial skills.
The AFDB resident Representative pointed out that FAPA is a multi-donor thematic trust fund that provides grant funding for technical assistance and capacity building to support implementation of the Bank’s Private Sector Development Strategy.
She further disclosed that the Governments of Japan and Austria and the African Development Bank were active contributors to the fund, which to date, has provided over US$46M to 57 projects in 38 countries across the African continent.
The FAPA portfolio includes regional and national projects aimed at improving the business environment, strengthening financial systems, building private sector infrastructure, promotion of trade and development of Micro, Small and Medium enterprises.
In remarks, the acting CEO of Access Bank Liberia, DuskoDimitrov, noted that “Access Bank Liberia would like to extend its deepest gratitude for AfDB’s ongoing support of Access Bank and the MSME sector in Liberia. These funds, he said, will allow the Bank to extend its outreach as the only dedicated MSME lender in the country.
He said Access Bank considers access to finance as an essential point of development for Liberia and its citizens, and will continue to strive towards making banking services available to all members of society. By Ben P. Wesee – Editing by George Barpeen