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IFC and Partners Seek Ways to Increase Access to Finance for SMEs in Africa

Johannesburg, South Africa, May 3, 2011 —IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, and its partner banks across Africa are seeking ways to boost the development of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) on the continent by helping them more easily access financing and other support.
IFC, through its Africa, Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise (AMSME) Finance Program, along with co-sponsors the Development Bank of Austria and the Government of the Netherlands, are hosting a three-day conference in Johannesburg from May 3 rd – 5 th   to discuss ways to overcome barriers blocking the growth of smaller businesses.
The Africa SME banking conference is bringing together key banking executives, financial sector authorities, international development specialists and entrepreneurs from Africa, Europe and the United States.
Executive Director of the World Bank, Mr. Ian Solomon, will provide insight into how the United States is working with other partners to address the challenge of financial inclusion as a driver to job creation through the G20.  
Cheick F. Kante, Program Manager of IFC's AMSME Finance Program, said, “Supporting the growth of smaller businesses is a major part of IFC’s strategy In Africa. SMEs are an essential force for creating jobs and reducing poverty, and are an engine of economic growth and development on the continent, and yet often cannot access the commercial bank financing that they need to grow.”  
IFC’s AMSME Finance Program is helping banks across Africa to establish or expand lending and other banking services for smaller businesses, providing both financial products and advisory services to participating banks. The program has invested $125 million in its partner banks, which have roughly 40,500 outstanding loans to smaller businesses worth more than $1.2 billion.
The conference provides a unique platform to examine the state of SME finance in Africa, its trends and best practices, efforts to close the MSME financing gap, and to increase access to finance for women entrepreneurs and businesses in the agri sector. The CEOs of Diamond Trust Bank in Kenya, Ms Nasim Devji, and Access Bank Plc in Nigeria, Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, will each offer insight into their own approaches around scaling up SME finance in their respective countries.
About IFC
IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is the largest global development institution focused on the private sector in developing countries. We create opportunity for people to escape poverty and improve their lives. We do so by providing financing to help businesses employ more people and supply essential services, by mobilizing capital from others, and by delivering advisory services to ensure sustainable development. In a time of global economic uncertainty, our new investments climbed to a record $18 billion in fiscal 2010. For more information, visit .
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