The European Investment Bank (EIB) established in 2019 the Financial Inclusion Fund that aims to improve access to finance for small business and entrepreneurs in developing countries. The financial inclusion initiative seeks to do this by providing technical assistance and capacity building operations to microfinance services providers.
At the moment, Luxembourg is the only partner of the fund and has committed €4.5m to finance operations deployed by the initiative. The Financial Inclusion Fund contributes to three of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): climate change, eradicate poverty and fight inequality.
In developing countries, the EIB uses grants to enhance project development impact, such as blending*. There are different instruments used to support specific development outcomes.
- Investment grants help lower the local financing needs for the beneficiary.
- Technical assistance can improve the quality, efficiency and sustainability of a project during the initial phases.
- Interest rate subsidies bring down the overall cost of the investment by reducing the financing costs.
- Financial instruments can unlock financing from private and public investors by addressing some of the risks that are holding back investments. They can be used as: risk capital, local currency lending, risk-sharing instruments and direct financing.
The Financial Inclusion Fund limit their financial operations in countries reference on the OECD`s Development Assistance Committee. These countries are in the Africa, Asia, Caribbean, LATAM and the Pacific region.
Microfinance in Burkina Faso
The EIB contributed €5m to the Luxembourg fund that is one of the principal investors of the Agence de Crédit pour I’Entreprise Privée (ACEP). Which is a microfinance company, that was developed in the 90’s. Their target is developing micro, small and medium business. They operate in Senegal, Madagascar, Cameroon, Burkina Faso and Nigeria.
Small business in Burkina Faso are the motors of the county’s economy. But there is a lack of financial access, such as loans. ACEP Burkina is solving this problem by giving tiny loans using simple application procedures.
“We have established ourselves here because we are flexible and open and can help people in a few days. That’s not standard for banking in Burkina Faso. And certainly not outside of microfinance,” says Valentine Nebié, an investment manager at ACEP Burkina’s.
Mariam Koanda is one of the clients of ACEP, she sells fruits and vegetables on a busy street in the capital of Burkina Faso. With the loan received from the agency, Mariam was able to expand her business and attract many new customers. “I think once ACEP gets to know you and know how you run your business they are a great help,” Mariam says.
Financial Inclusion initiatives are making a huge impact in developing countries, where informal economy has not diminished over time. Easy and fast access to finance institutions, will generate for micro-entrepreneurs a fair supply and services: microcredit, a safe place to keep their money, money transfer and micro-insurance.
*Blended finance is the use of catalytic capital from public or philanthropic sources to increase private sector investment in sustainable development.