USAID and African Development Bank Sign Partnership Agreement to Support African Entrepreneurs

16/04/2008
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USAID and African Development Bank Sign Partnership Agreement to Support African Entrepreneurs

Washington, D.C. – The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the African Development Bank (AfDB) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to launch a partnership in support of entrepreneurs in Africa.  This groundbreaking public-private initiative will formalize a collaborative arrangement to focus on accelerating investment in African small and medium enterprises (SMEs). 

The signing ceremony signifies the important relationship between the AfDB and USAID in promoting private sector development in Africa, where entrepreneurship is thriving and creating employment and economic growth.  "Small and Medium sized Enterprises, as we know, create employment and are a critical component of economic growth.  This partnership is a prime example of how development organizations can build upon and reinforce one another’s strengths.  The result is a much-needed expansion of financial services for African entrepreneurs," said Henrietta Fore, USAID Administrator. 

This will be the first time that two partners of this size, with the ability to work independently, have decided to join efforts to extend a joint guarantee.  The ability of entrepreneurs, small businesses and individuals to obtain loans is severely limited, so the benefits of launching such a partnership will enable local and international banks to have greater access to catalytic guarantees, providing a bridge to encourage greater lending to SMEs.  By demonstrating to the market the viability of SMEs, private financial institutions will gain the experience necessary to continue lending without additional USAID-AfDB support. 

It is anticipated that in less than six months USAID and the AfDB will mobilize up to $125 million in private financing for SMEs to grow their businesses.  Of these, a minimum of 25 percent will be women-owned businesses.  These are enterprises that without the joint guarantee would likely not have access to financing essential for day-to-day business operations, upgrading equipment and technology and capital investments. 

The collaborative relationship established under the MOU will last a minimum of five years, and USAID and the AfDB fully expect a fruitful ongoing partnership.

For more information about USAID and its programs in Africa, visit www.usaid.gov.

For more information about AfDB, visit www.afdb.org.

The American people, through the U.S. Agency for International Development, have provided economic and humanitarian assistance worldwide for nearly 50 years.