Ecobank Co-Hosts The First Africa Champions Forum In Support Of SMEs Across Africa

Ecobank, the leading pan-African banking group, has joined forces with the African Guarantee Fund, the first continent-wide guarantee fund, and AfricSearch, the recruitment firm, in co-hosting the first Africa Champions’ Forum in Senegal.

This forum brings together leading lights from the private sector and development agencies, together with influential political decision-makers, all united to promote the growth of the continent by providing finance and advisory services to Africa’s emerging small and medium enterprise (‘SME’) champions.

The objective of the forum is to enable some 300 SME leaders, from the five regions of Africa, to interact with more than 100 representatives of reputable financial institutions and around 50 small business consultants.

The forum also aims to celebrate the achievements of Africa’s finest entrepreneurs, and the leading financial institutions that support them, by presenting awards in the following categories:
• SME of the Year
• Regional Development Prize
• Young Entrepreneur Of the Year
• Best SME Bank

SMEs were invited to make award submissions, provided that they met the following criteria: a minimum of 3 years of legal existence, with at least 10 full-time or equivalent employees and a turnover of between USD 250,000 and USD 15 million. 

Mr. Albert Essien, Ecobank’s Group CEO, commented: “The private sector and, in particular, SMEs are the lifeblood of any economy. SMEs are also the largest providers of direct employment, so it is important to support Africa-wide initiatives to drive their development, thereby deepening financial inclusion. Ecobank is delighted to be able to bring together private and public institutions in such a way to maximize the impact of the Africa Champions’ Forum.”

Patrick Akinwuntan, Ecobank’s Group Executive for Domestic Bank, added: “Supporting SMEs is in line with our vision of contributing positively to Africa’s development. In addition to providing access to finance through credit facilities, collections, trade and cash management products and services, Ecobank also provides significant access to market to SMEs through our unparalleled network of multinational and large corporates across 36 countries in Africa.”

Ecobank started operations in Tanzania in January 2010 and has since grown to include 9 branches across the country.