M&B: Can you introduce us to Proparco in a few words?
Gregory Clemente: Proparco is a development bank that has existed for more than 40 years. It is a subsidiary of Agence Française de Développement dedicated solely to financing the private sector.
We finance and support all private actors, from local entrepreneurs to regional banking groups. Our action therefore focuses on key sectors for development: infrastructure, with a focus on renewable energies, the agro-industry, financial institutions, health, education...
Our intervention is mainly in the form of loans, equity investments or guarantees.
We currently support more than 500 clients in 80 emerging and developing countries, many of which are in Africa.
M&B: France is launching an offensive in Africa with "Choose Africa". Can you tell us about this program?
G.C: Choose Africa is France's flagship initiative for small and medium-sized enterprises in Africa.
As we all know, start-ups and SMEs are the engines of growth. However, as our teams in the field observe on a daily basis, the lack of adequate funding remains the main obstacle to their development. With Choose Africa, more than €2.5 billion will be devoted to financing and supporting 10,000 African start-ups, VSEs and SMEs by 2022: €1 billion will be invested in equity capital and €1.5 billion to facilitate their access to credit.
M&B: $2.5 billion for Africa, very good. But what budget can we expect for the DRC?
G.C: There is no predefined budget for the DRC, but it is a priority country. Proparco plans to support viable SMEs in the DRC through direct financing and its intermediation tools. When it comes to intermediation, the strategy focuses on supporting financial institutions through the establishment of credit lines dedicated to SMEs and the ARIZ guarantee tool, which allow financial institutions to partially hedge their credit risk. As for our equity investment activity, currently it is mainly carried out through FISEA, the investment and support fund for companies in Africa, owned by AFD and advised by Proparco.
M&B: You will be in Kinshasa for the French week. What is the purpose of this visit?
G.C: Continue a dialogue that we have initiated for several years now with our parent company AFD, in order to better align our offer with the needs of the Congolese economy. I will therefore meet with business leaders, including some companies supported by ARF. Finally, a few days ago we signed an important agreement with the IFC that calls for close collaboration to increase our support to the private sector in six low-income, fragile and conflict-affected countries, including the DRC.