Development of SME is a major priority to Africa

AfDB and EMRC determined to put spotlight on Africa’s Missing Middle.
The development of the SME sector will be a major priority for Africa during AfDB – EMRC SME Forum.

27 April 2011, Brussels, Belgium

Africa’s Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) sector must be developed in order to ensure increased growth and sustainable development, explained Robert Zegers, AfDB’s Private Sector Coordinator for SME Finance and Idit Miller, EMRC VP & Managing Director, during an interview held in Brussels on Friday 15th June.

In anticipation of the AfDB – EMRC SME Forum to be held from 6-7 June 2011, in Lisbon Portugal, co-hosts stressed the importance of this Missing Middle and the significance of the upcoming Forum. For the first time, financiers, investors and bankers as well as heads of SMEs from across Africa will come together to address the future of this sector and the issues that need to be tackled in order to establish lasting growth.

“We have not witnessed before a gathering bringing together such a broach based number of financial institutions where we can present the existing support mechanisms for SMEs, with the purpose of establishing a more coherent intervention approach to promote access to finance for SMEs across Africa. The AfDB – EMRC SME Forum will achieve exactly this, which today has become a top priority for everyone,” Idit Miller highlighted.

Robert Zegers was also confident that the AfDB’s increased commitment to ensure access to financing of Africa’s SMEs will allow many businesses in Africa to develop their full potential and ensure a long-term and sustainable growth. “Previously, financing was primarily available for large national or regional projects in Africa. Today, it is important that smaller entrepreneurs can also access financing to support their growth. Establishing adequate approaches and models that allow financiers to provide a variety of financial instruments to SMEs will be key to the future for a whole section of African society.”

An estimated 95% of businesses in Africa are MSMEs (micro, small and medium-sized enterprises). “Giving these businesses a conducive enabling environment will provoke financing to become available and will allow the informal sector to formalize and the formal sector to grow, to create jobs and prosperity, and ultimately to close the gap of the ‘missing middle” added Robert Zegers.

Mutual engagement and partnerships will also be brought to the forefront during the AfDB – EMRC SME Forum. B2B sessions will be part of the programme. These are pre-arranged personal meetings according to offers and specific requests, to assist participants identify business opportunities. The Marketplace, a new feature at EMRC events, allows organisations to have a personalised booth from 6-10 June, showcasing local and regional products, services and community projects. Exposure, to over 3000 event participants, of these products emerging at a local level is vital in order for the international community to establish successful and relevant policies and goals.

In addition, the EMRC-AfDB Project Incubator Award 2011 nominees and winner will be announced during the Forum. This Award has had an important impact for past winners and nominees, giving them international exposure and a significant cash prize.


To register for the AfDB-EMRC SME Forum please visit



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