CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC AT A GLANCE:
Population: 4.4 million (2011)
GDP per capita: $454 (2011)
The Central African Republic, landlocked and heavily dependent on aid, is working to bolster its small private sector and develop its rich natural resources to achieve long-term economic growth.
A lack of infrastructure and a difficult business environment are two major obstacles holding back the economy, which depends heavily on agriculture. Rule of law and government services are lacking outside the capital, Bangui, though security is steadily improving.
IFC’s CASA Initiative in CAR is primarily focusing its efforts Bangui, home to a fifth of the country’s population, where it is supporting the growth of smaller businesses and helping improve the investment climate.
Improving the Investment Climate
IFC is supporting improvements to CAR’s investment climate by strengthening public-private dialogue processes, and by working to improve and simplify business regulations.
With IFC’s support, CAR has enacted investment climate reforms that have cut the business registration tax and transfer of property tax by more than half, bringing considerable savings to the private sector and encouraging small business creation.
Helping Smaller Businesses Grow
As part of the IFC SME Ventures Program, the Central African SME Fund (CASF) is providing risk capital and advisory services to small businesses in the country. The program expects to provide capital to about 25 to 50 companies with an investment size ranging from $100,000 to $500,000 per company.
IFC has also launched its Business Edge training program in CAR to help businessmen and women gain the management skills they need to run their businesses more efficiently.
Rebuilding Financial Infrastructure
The CASA Initiative is providing a grant of $200,000 to CAR’s Chamber of Commerce to help rebuild its capacity to offer SME development activities.
CASA is also exploring ways it can support growth in CAR’s agriculture and microfinance sectors, both important for job creation and poverty reduction.