The International Trade Centre (ITC) and the African Guarantee Fund for Small and Medium Enterprises (AGF) have announced a partnership to expand access to climate-focused finance for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Africa. The new collaboration builds on the momentum from the 2016 Sustainable Innovation Forum held in in Marrakech, Morocco. It introduces a specialized green-guarantee instrument aimed at financial institutions and designed to unlock finance for SMEs to invest in environmentally friendly development..
The agreement is part of the technical assistance facility provided alongside the €6 million equity investment to AGF by the Nordic Development Fund (NDF). The overall investment of the NDF aims to unlock up to €36m in private commercial capital for green growth. As part of its Access to Finance for SMEs Programme, ITC – with the support of AGF – will organize conferences and training targeting various stakeholders in the green finance area, including top management and other staff of commercial banks in Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya and Zambia.
The partnership is also a response to the Zambia Green Jobs Programme, a joint United Nations programme aimed at creating green jobs in the building and construction sector. The first conference and set of training courses will be held in Lusaka, Zambia on 2-7 March 2017.
“The ultimate objective of the training sessions is to make financial institutions go green and be ready to support clients seeking dedicated products for green investments,’ said Felix A. Bikpo, Chief Executive Officer of AGF. ‘The training will bring participants up to speed on the environment and social risks related to lending and investment projects. It will also guide participants use strategies and tools to detect, mitigate and evaluate these environmental and social risks,” he said.
Dorothy Tembo, ITC’s Deputy Executive Director, said: ‘This new partnership will be a stepping stone to achieve greenhouse-gas emissions targets and enable a shift towards a green economy. Participants will gain know-how on how to access funding for climate-change mitigation and adaptation and attract climate conscious investments. They will also learn how climate-change regulations can help spur the development of new products and services.’
The collaboration will target SME investments in sustainable energy, cleaner production, climate-smart agriculture, natural resource management, and green services leading to improvements in overall sustainability of African economies and growth in green jobs, income and quality of life for low income communities across the continent.