The IFC is providing a US$2mn trade finance guarantee to Bank of Africa Côte d’Ivoire (BOACI).

The financing, provided by the IFC’s global trade finance programme, is aimed primarily at SMEs in Côte d’Ivoire that are looking to export or take loans for the purchase of capital equipment. The IFC has also agreed to provide advisory services for a year to help BOACI encourage the SMEs to take up the scheme.

The advisory programme aims to help BOACI to grow its portfolio of small business loans by 20% by 2016 through increasing the bank’s risk management framework and helping it to establish partnerships with a number of international and regional confirming banks.

Lala Moulaye, director general of the BOACI, says: “The trade finance guarantee from the IFC will allow us to better support Côte d’Ivoire’s smaller importers and exporters. This partnership will help BOACI finance smaller businesses, grow its SME portfolio, and enhance its presence in international markets.”

Peer Stein, the IFC’s access to finance advisory director, adds: “The IFC’s partnership with BOACI will help strengthen Côte d’Ivoire’s financial infrastructure and its small business sector, which plays a critical role in job creation and the health of the country’s economy.”

The IFC chose to get involved in Côte d’Ivoire because despite the fact that it is one of the strongest and most diversified economies in West Africa, its smaller businesses still struggle to obtain the financing and support they need to expand. The IFC has also recently provided US$300mn to Société Ivoirienne de Raffinage to fund oil imports for its oil refinery.