PSociete Generale Group is to almost double its credit support to the Small and Medium-scale Enterprises (SMEs) sector in Africa in the next half decade as the bank pursues new business development strategy on the continent.
It said it was increasing its loan portfolio from the current six billion to 10 billion Euros from now to 2023 under its ‘Grow with Africa strategy’ which is focused on four development areas, namely supporting African SMEs, agriculture and energy sectors, infrastructure financing and financial inclusion.
The Director for International Retail Banking of Africa, Mediterranean Basins and Overseas Region of Societe Generale Group, Alexander Maymat, who disclosed this at the bank’s Business Day in Accra programme, said the move was to diversify the operations of the bank in Africa.
Organised by Societe Generale Ghana, under the theme “Growth with Africa,” the objective of the programme led by some of Societe General Group’s management staff from France, was to discuss how the bank could support Ghana’s development agenda.
Mr Maymat said that Africa could not develop without building a vibrant SMEs sector, explaining that the SME sector globally constituted the driving force for job creation and employment.
For instance in Africa, he said SMEs constituted more than 90 per cent of businesses and employ more than 60 per cent of rural population and contribute about 70 per cent of the region’s Gross Domestic Product and stressed there was the need to support the sector to grow.
To this end, he said the bank, was increasing its staff dedicated to the SMEs to shore up the bank’s services to the sector.
Mr Maymat on agriculture and energy said the two sectors were critical to propel the growth of the region and create more jobs for the youth.
Against this backdrop, the Director for International Retail Banking of Africa said the bank was developing innovating financing solutions for the sector, saying about one million farmers would benefit from the financing solution of the bank.
Touching on infrastructure, he said Africa could not develop without robust infrastructure, stressing that “all the towns in Africa must be connected not only the cities.”
“Societe Generale Group will use our successful experience in infrastructure finance to build future projects,” he said.
On financial inclusion, Mr Maymat said only 20 per cent of the population in Africa had bank accounts, a situation he said did not augur well for the development of the region.
He said the bank would work hard to address the problem and was working with international organisations to tackle the problem, pointing out that “Societe General cannot operate in an environment where less than 20 per cent of the population has access to bank accounts.”
Mr Maymat said the bank would work to serve the unbanked by also providing them with banking and non-banking services such as health, education through its online mobile money platform.
The French Ambassador to Ghana, Anne-Sophie AVE in her remarks lauded the bank for the role it was playing to support the development of Africa in general and Ghana in particular.
She entreated the bank not to rest on its oars, but continue to step up its support for the development of the Ghanaian economy and Africa in general.
By Kingsley Asare