Alfred Duwor has taken out three loans from Access Bank Liberia, his country’s first commercial microfinance institution, since it opened in 2009, using the money to expand his small grocery store and buy four vehicles he leases to clients. He has hired 10 more workers in this time.
Access Bank targets rising small business owners like Alfred. It typically processes their loans in just 48 hours with flexible collateral terms—unlike the larger Liberian banks that could take weeks or months, if they served them at all. Meeting a great need at the base of the pyramid, it now serves more than 6,000 clients.
IFC is a founding shareholder, part of our larger relationship with Germany’s Access Holding that has also led to the creation of similar banks in Madagascar, Nigeria, and Tanzania. Working with a network of microfinance holding companies, we help introduce commercial microfinance across Africa, fueling the growth of local entrepreneurship.
The private sector drives job creation, productivity gains, and innovation in Africa and throughout the developing world. It accounts for roughly 90 percent of employment, creating the jobs and tax revenues that set the foundation for poverty reduction.
These jobs are created by entrepreneurs—bold, risk-taking business owners with vision for a much-needed new product or service, and a plan for bringing it to market, then scaling it up over time. But a lack of access to finance, market information, and management training too often holds them back. To reach their full potential, they need special support.
IFC helps fill these gaps as part of our larger work carrying out the G20’s global financial inclusion agenda. In Africa, our focus includes:
• Microfinance: investments in 23 institutions that have together enabled 1.5 million people to open saving accounts with an average balance of $237, while also making small loans to 350,000 borrowers
• SME Finance: IFC’s Africa MSME Finance program is a combined investment/advisory effort in 15 countries that typically helps banks increase their SME lending by at least 30 percent over three years, then continue to grow profitably on their own, and providing trade finance guarantees to support SMEs’ import/export transactions.
• Management Training: partnering with Austria, Canada, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Switzerland to offer our Business Edge classroom courses and Web-based SME Toolkit in 23 countries