Societe Generale (SG) – a French banking institution serving 31 million individual and professional clients worldwide, placing innovation and digital technology at the heart of its business- has declared its intentions to support Small and Medium-sized Enterprises in Ghana with a sum to the tune of USD 126 Mn (GHC 700 Mn). According to the bank, the support which could be more than the expressed amount belongs to its global growth strategy for 2019.
Societe Generale – a leading European financial services group – is out to support the development of the West African country by providing funding for small businesses. The Managing Director of SG Ghana, Hakim Ouzzani said that for the next three years, the group would be giving a USD 126 Mn envelope of financing for SMEs in the country.
According to him, the financial support is a reflection of the entire importance the bank is affording to SMEs in Ghana, “Because we believe that these small businesses of today will be the big enterprises of tomorrow, and we believe they will help the country not just to grow, but improve – for example – its exportations as substitutions to import”.
Under the auspices of the bank’s Grow With Africa program, the objectives are to foster the development of the economies and populations via multi-dimensional support for SMEs, infrastructure financing, innovative financing solutions, and financial inclusion. The initiative will also create SME centers across Africa to provide resources for business development. This will be an addition to the bank’s move to increase credit access to bolster small enterprises, which are very well the bedrock of African economies.
Per infrastructure financing – another crucial area of African development – Societe Generale schemes to multiply its workforce twice in dedication to structured financing by the end of the year. It will also increase its financial commitment regarding structured finance in Africa by 20 percent over the next three years. Under the auspices of innovative financing, and with a keen focus on agro-industries and energy collaborations, the bank plans to provide access to a range of banking and non-banking services – including healthcare, education, and advisory amongst others – ton one million farmers over the next five years.
While the previously mentioned target is being fueled by YUP – SG’s online mobile money platforms that offers ‘doorstep’ finance, the group will also be promoting development by means of financial inclusion. This bid is contrived from the solid conviction that there is a pressing need for alternative banking models to accelerate Africa’s financial inclusion. Having taken cognizance of the fact that 80 percent of Africans remain unbanked and microfinance remains crucial to integrating this section of the populace yet to access the traditional banking system.
Banking Sector As A Lifeline
On his part, the Head of Africa and Overseas Region of Societe Generale, Alexandre Maymat, explains the role of the banking sector to control the country’s increased debt stock.
“If you compare the indebtedness level of a country like Ghana which is around 30% of the GDP globally with the situation in China which is around 140%, it means that there is a very important room for increasing the capability of the banking sector and of banking lending to contribute to financing investments that are necessary to develop your countries.”
Adding, he stated that “one of the important roles of a bank like Societe Generale is to put in place much more private sector lending facilities that will take the place of the public sector in financing the investments that you need.”
Alexandre Maymat said, “Societe Generale’s experience in Ghana is an exciting one; the country is developing fast, and so are the needs of our clients.”
He added, “Clients are finding in Ghana their own way to consumer banking products and services, and we believe that our unique positioning which combines knowledge of the local economies and the expertise of an international banking group are key to support the country’s development.”
Societe Generale’s desire to contribute to sustainable development in Africa is also driven by the initiatives of the bank’s Corporate Foundation for Solidarity. The foundation has already supported close to 100 projects promoting professional integration in 14 African countries, and the budget it dedicates to projects in Africa will be considerably increased over the coming years.
Active in the real economy for over 150 years, with a solid position in Europe and connected to the rest of the world, Societe Generale has over 147,000 members of staff in 67 countries and supports on a daily basis 31 million individual clients, businesses and institutional investors around the world by offering a wide range of advisory services and tailored financial solutions.