ProCredit Savings and Loans Company and the French government on Friday signed an agreement under which France would provide a 900,000-Euro grant to the company in support of its Small and Medium-size Enterprises (MESO) Finance project.
The project is aimed at developing the lending activity to MESO entrepreneurs with the aim of contributing to the economic development and poverty reduction of the country by increasing access to small and medium-size enterprises for financial resources.
Ms Edwige Takassi, Managing Director of ProCredit company, signed for the company whilst Mr Francis Hurtus, French Ambassador to Ghana, appended his signature on behalf of the French government.
Over a three-year period, the French Development Agency, Agence Francaise de Developpement (AFD), will provide the money within the framework of the Trade Capacity Building Programme, to make the company develop both in terms of employment and economic growth.
Ms Takassi said by this project, ProCredit would strengthen staff capacities and create specialised desks dedicated to small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
ProCredit would receive technical assistance to bring the best practices to SMEs lending and transfer this knowledge through co-ordination, intensive coaching of the key local staff and regular training sessions.
ProCredit also plans to train at least three managers and more than 100 officers including SMEs and agro loan officers as well as specialised client relationship managers, Ms Takassi added.
Ms Takassi said the training would cover key areas of banking and business development, including social and environmental approach and communication methodology. As a pilot project, capitalising on the good practices in the areas of "mesofinance" and communication about this experience to a larger public will also represent key components of the project.
She said ProCredit had about 250 clients with 20 constituting SMEs. The company currently provides GH¢33 million as its loan portfolio to SMEs and this amount would be doubled by 2010.
Mr Hurtus said in Ghana the private sector was both dynamic and diversified ranging from very small individual businesses to large international companies.
He said the SMEs were major actors in the economic growth of the country due to their heterogeneous nature as well as a major source of income and employment.
Mr Hurtus said SMEs produced goods and services adapted to local conditions, which led to a better harmonised development, adding, however, that among the SMEs, a large number still needed assistance and support.
He said such small enterprises called MESO enterprises were at the same time too big and independent to benefit from the community guarantees that constituted the trade marks of microfinance and too small to receive adequate attention from traditional commercial banks.
He said filling this gap and creating a better enabling environment for private sector growth dominated by SMEs was one of the priorities of Ghanaian private sector development strategy, contributing to both poverty reduction and social cohesion in the country.
Mr Benoit Lebeurre, Resident Manager AFD, said France was working in close co-operation with Ghana towards the development of the nation, adding that the micro enterprises sector in the country needed much attention.
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