African Guarantee Fund (AGF) has issued a portfolio guarantee line amounting to 1.6 billion FCFA to Ecobank Benin to support SMEs, women’s entrepreneurship and the green economy in Benin. The signing ceremony took place at Ecobank Benin headquarters in Cotonou.

Signed by Bendjin KPEGLO, Managing Director of AGF WEST AFRICA and Lazare NOULEKOU, Chief Executive Officer of ECOBANK Benin, this line of guarantee will, on the one hand, help reduce challenges related to the absence of guarantee encountered by SMEs/SMIs and which constitute an obstacle to the financing of their activities and, on the other hand, further increase its commitment on the SME/SMI segment while promoting the development of women’s leadership in the private sector.

During the signing ceremony, Mr. Bendjin KPEGLO, Managing Director of AGF WEST AFRICA, said:

” One of the priorities of the development plans put in place by Governments in our countries is to support SMEs and reduce the unemployment rate. The new banking regulations underway in our sub-region impose additional requirements on banks as part of their financing activities, to make them more efficient and robust. In order to meet these requirements, banks need reliable partners to support them, especially in the SME/SMI segment which represents the largest part of the economic fabric, but is at the same time more vulnerable and experienced lots of difficulties in finding financing.

To this effect, AGF is one of the reference partners on the continent, especially with the advantages linked to its AA- rating by Fitch Rating and its renowned shareholders. It is against this backdrop that the partnership between Ecobank Benin and AGF West Africa is signed, giving the bank therefore comfort to finance SMEs in Benin, with an emphasis on women-led SMEs (through the AFAWA program) and those with eco-friendly activities.

This portfolio guarantee includes a component of the AFAWA program, a joint initiative of the AfDB and the African Guarantee Fund that aims at providing up to USD 3 billion in loans to women-owned SMEs in Africa.”

On his part, Mr. Lazare NOULEKOU, Chief Executive Officer of ECOBANK Benin said:

“It is a partnership that gives us more comfort and flexibility in the financing of Beninese SMEs and we are proud to make it happen today with AGF. SMEs are the backbone of the economy, especially in developing countries where they participate in job creation and income generation, their impact is even more important in Benin where they represent 90% of the industrial sector. This is why we have literally dedicated a business unit to them at Ecobank: Commercial Banking.

This partnership will enable us to better support them according to their needs, in particular: the financing of stocks, assets and contracts to which they bid or for which they are declared successful bidders, with the issuance of various guarantees ranging from the application for retention payment bonds, including advance payments and performance bonds. Moreover, our attention is focused on international trade through a wide range of products such as letters of credit, documentary remittances, endorsements and discounting of bills, etc. ….

Beyond this non-exhaustive list of financing solutions, Beninese SMEs/SMIs have the opportunity to benefit from Ecobank’s digital banking products, such as EcobankPay, smart Digital Payment Terminals (DTPs), Bank Collect and Omni Lite, which allow them to make secure and autonomous payments and collections, and to manage their cash flow through digital solutions.

Ecobank also promotes female leadership development through its Ellevate program, which aims at unlocking the potential of women-led and women-focused businesses with solutions for better cash management, loans at favorable interest rates, and value-added services.