FMO collaborates with COFINA, one of the few home grown microfinance groups in Africa

18 May 2020

The loan strengthens FMO’s presence among financial institutions in francophone Africa, increasing access to finance for MSMEs

FMO is pleased to announce the recent closing of multiple transactions to microfinance group Compagnie Financiere Africaine (COFINA). EUR 7,5 mln is issued to Cofina’s subsidiary in Senegal, EUR 5 mln to Cofina Côte d'Ivoire.

A majority of this funding will specifically support the lending to women and youth-owned businesses, in countries where nearly half the population still lives below the national poverty line. This will drive financial inclusion, which is critical in reducing poverty and achieving inclusive economic growth.

Huib-Jan de Ruijter, Director Financial Institutions at FMO: “Especially in these difficult times due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are proud to support CFN, one of the few home grown African micro-finance groups. First in Senegal and now also in Côte d'Ivoire. These transactions fit perfectly with FMO’s approach to build strong relationship with MFI groups in Francophone Africa. COFINA has shown a strong willingness to grow and understands how real impact can be made through financial inclusion. We look forward to our collaboration.”

These loans strengthen FMO’s presence among financial institutions in francophone Africa, increasing access to finance. The funding will be provided by the Dutch government’s MASSIF fund, which aims to take early investment risks and act as a catalyst for the growth for the private financial sector, while meanwhile stimulating financial inclusion in developing countries.

SERVICES TO THE' ‘MISSING MIDDLE’  

COFINA is a home-grown African microfinance Group that operates in 7 countries in Francophone Africa: Côte d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Mali, Guinea-Conakry, Congo-Brazzaville, Gabon and Senegal. MFIs are important drivers for increased access to finance. Over the last years Cofina has experienced considerable growth thanks to its innovative business model of providing tailor-made financial products and services to the ‘missing middle’. Their products and services are customised for MSMEs whose needs are too large for smaller MFIs, and whose structure is too informal or risky for commercial banks. Today, the COFINA Group serves around 175,000 clients and has 1,340 employees of which 45% are women.

Hervé-Serge Ndakpri, Group CFO at COFINA: “We are delighted with the signing of this partnership with FMO. This funding will allow us to strengthen our role as a mesofinance institution in Senegal and in Côte d’Ivoire at the service of financial inclusion. It is also a mark of trust from a leading international financial partner, which recognizes through this significant funding, the solidity of the COFINA Group and the impact that we have daily on entrepreneurs, very small businesses and SMEs. We are already working on the next stages of our collaboration. "

CREATE AND MAINTAIN JOBS FOR YOUTH AND WOMEN

Senegal is on the UN list of Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and situated in West-Africa. Even though Senegal has maintained an economic growth rate above 6% in the last four years, the unemployment rate is 14.3% as of 2018; 24.1% for women versus 6.2% for men. Senegal ranks 166 out of 189 in the Human Development Index and the average age of the population stands at 22.7 years old. SMEs form the core of the overall Senegalese economic activity and mostly operate in the informal economy.

For the last 5 years Cote d'Ivoire's growth rate has been among the highest in the world, following the end of more than a decade of civil conflict in 2011. The country is the world's largest producer and exporter of cocoa beans and a significant producer and exporter of coffee and palm oil. Still 46.3% of the population of 27 million live under the poverty line. Cote d’Ivoire ranks 164 out of 189 in the Human Development Index and the average age of the population stands at 18,5 years old.

Promoting loans to SME clients and providing them with access to capital will empower local entrepreneurs and support job creation. The loan facility will help to create and maintain jobs for youth and women and is therefore fully aligned with Goal 10 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Reducing Inequalities and Goal 8, Decent Work and Economic Growth. 

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