African Guarantee Fund and Vista partner to Boost SMEs and Women-led Businesses in West Africa

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African Guarantee Fund has partnered with Vista Group Holding to accelerate access to finance for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) including women-led businesses in four West African countries: Burkina Faso, The Gambia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone.

This collaboration will see AGF provide a loan portfolio guarantee of USD 50 million to support Vista Group Holding’s lending activities to SMEs across its network in the four target countries. The partnership aims to unlock growth opportunities for West Africa’s SMEs by scaling up SME financing and contributing to economic development in the region.

“We are excited to partner with Vista Group, one of the largest leading players in the West African banking landscape,” said Jules Ngankam, Group Chief Executive Officer, AGF. “This collaboration will leverage our combined expertise and resources to unlock the immense potential of SMEs in the region, drive inclusive economic growth through increased access to financing.”

By focusing on underserved markets, the partnership will promote financial inclusion by increasing access to finance for entrepreneurs, including women-owned SMEs, green businesses, and youth entrepreneurs. The AGF’s risk-sharing guarantee will mitigate potential risks associated with SME lending, bolstering the financial stability of Vista Group and its subsidiaries.

As a catalyst for regional collaboration, the partnership aligns with both AGF’s mission to promote economic development and reduce poverty in Africa, and Vista Bank Group’s ambition to become a leading pan-African financial institution focused on economic and financial inclusion.

Yao Kouassi, Managing Director of Vista Group Holding, added, “Partnering with AGF is a significant step in our mission to empower SMEs and contribute to financial inclusion across West Africa. This facility will enable us to expand our reach and provide crucial financial support to businesses that are driving economic development in these countries. This aligns with our goal to expand our footprint beyond the Guinean Market to ECOWAS and the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CAEMAC).”

Additionally, the partnership leverages the Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA) Guarantee for Growth program that aims to unlock up to USD 3 billion in financing for Women SMEs in Africa through financial institutions.

“This partnership reflects the commitment of the African Development Bank, especially through the AFAWA initiative, to empower women entrepreneurs while promoting economic growth in the West African region,” said African Development Bank’s Togo Office Country Manager, Wilfrid Abiola, after the ceremony.  

“With 20% of this transaction allocated to women-led small and medium-sized enterprises, along with tailored technical assistance support provided by AFAWA, Vista Group Holding is taking the commitment to de-risk women-led businesses in their portfolio and making great strides in transforming access to finance for women-led small and medium enterprises in low-income countries and fragile states,” Abiola added. 

AGF will also avail a capacity development program tailored to each subsidiary based on their needs to further enhance the impact of the guarantee.

This partnership marks a significant milestone in AGF’s and Vista Bank Group’s commitment to supporting SMEs and driving inclusive economic growth in West Africa. By working together, the two organizations will empower entrepreneurs, create jobs, and contribute to a more prosperous future for the region.