(Business in Cameroon) - The International Finance Corporation (IFC) has just partnered with La Régionale Bank in Cameroon. The two sides signed the related agreement on June 22, according to the World Bank’s private sector arm.
Under the deal, the IFC will open a CFA3 billion credit line for La Régionale. The financing will allow the Cameroonian lender to loan more at competitive rates to micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and low-income households.
"Expanding access to financing for low-income individuals and MSMEs in Cameroon is essential to support development efforts. IFC is proud to partner with La Régionale Bank to meet the growing long-term financing needs of individuals and MSMEs operating in sectors that play a pivotal role in Cameroon's economic and social development," said Sylvain Kakou, IFC's Regional Representative for Cameroon.
As part of its partnership with IFC, La Régionale is to give priority to women and women-led businesses. "Indeed, at least 25% of the financing granted is specifically intended for women and businesses led by women," the IFC emphasized.
For its part, the IFC "will also council La Régionale Bank on risk management and help improve its financial products and services for MSMEs" through its (ed. note: the bank) branch network. The lender has 41 branches spread across Cameroon’s 10 regions.
La Régionale Bank is the 18th bank to get its license in Cameroon. It was only last year, in September, that the lender received its universal bank license. Partnering with the IFC should allow the bank to solidify its footprint in the local MSMEs financing market–knowing that the banks in Cameroon do not usually engage in this market.
In Q3 2022, Cameroonian SMEs secured only 22% of loans issued by banks, despite representing over 99% of the country’s economic fabric. The figures were disclosed in the quarterly report of the BEAC–Central Africa’s Apex bank–on credit costs in the CEMAC.