By Seye Joseph
Foremost African financial institution; Guaranty Trust Bank plc has partnered with Agence Française de Développement (AFD) to launch the N3 Billion Ariz Portfolio Guarantee Scheme, an initiative designed to boost financing for business start-ups and development projects in Nigeria. The partnership with GTBank, which is the first in Anglophone Africa, will support the growth of SMEs by providing a risk sharing mechanism on loan advances.
The Ariz Portfolio Guarantee Scheme provides Banks, private equity investors and other financial institutions a safer platform to increase participation in SME financing by providing foreign guarantees to local credit facilities advanced to SMEs. Since its inception in 2008, The Ariz Portfolio Guarantee Scheme has expanded to over 20 francophone countries in Africa, and has teamed up with more than 40 partner banks worldwide. The scheme has seen a steady rise in the number and volume of guarantees allocated (up 80% annually over the past 3 years) and an increasing number of companies have been able to develop each year, with thousands of jobs created.
According to the French Ambassador to Nigeria, Ambassador Denys Gauer,“Small and Medium enterprises (SMEs) have a key role as drivers of economic growth and employment. However, despite the widespread presence of SMEs in Nigeria, the sector faces major obstacles such as the limited access to bank financing, mostly because of the risk factor associated with SMEs. The objective of this scheme is to facilitate SMEs’ access to finance by supporting the development of the GTBank portfolio of SME loans.”
Speaking at the launch of the event, Mr. Segun Agbaje, Managing Director/CEO of GTBank said “empowering small & medium scale enterprises remains pivotal to the sustenance of growth and development in emerging economies across the world. This sector remains crucial to the economic make-up of Nigeria yet contributes little to our national GDP. We are determined to help rewrite this narrative by boosting access to long term financing for the sector.”
He further stated that, “The partnership with AFD is the first for any Anglophone speaking country and reaffirms the Bank’s commitment to building a strong SME sector buoyed by easy access to long term financing. As a Bank, we will continue to provide solutions to help smaller businesses build capacity and improve their knowledge of managing businesses. Earlier in the year, using our SME MarketHub platform, we organized a training program for small business owners on capacity building, business ethics and global best practices.