(Business in Cameroon) - In Cameroon, SMEs officially make up 95% of the country’s economy, affirms Laurent Serge Etoundi Ngoa, Minister of SMEs, Social Economy and Craft, in an interview. However, despite the strong role SMEs play in the economy, these companies, which are unanimously considered to be engines of growth, only make up 36% of Cameroon’s GDP.
“If SMEs were to contribute 50% of GDP, we would already be an emerging country. So, SMEs need to work harder to achieve the remaining 14%. The government expects SMEs to improve, with all the support structures it has given them, so that we are an emerging country before 2035,” states Minister Etoundi Ngoa.
Indeed, fully aware of SMEs’ importance in any development strategy, Cameroon has been increasing, in the last few years, its support for them. This includes the creation of the Banque des PME or SME Bank on July 20, 2015 in Yaoundé to reduce the challenges SMEs in Cameroon face when seeking financing.
The government also opened the Bureau de mise à niveau (BMN) or Upgrading Office, with the EU’s support, to reinforce the competitiveness of Cameroonian SMEs in anticipation of the EPAs taking effect between the member States of the ACP and those of the EU. In order to help reduce financing access challenges, which are the main obstacles to the development of SMEs in Cameroon, according to experts, the BMN has already established partnerships with the Fagace and the lending company, African Leasing Company.
In addition, Cameroon now has the Agence de promotion des PME or Agency for the Promotion of SMEs, which aims to transition SMEs from an informal to a formal economy. The Centres de gestion agréés des impôts or Tax Management Centres put in place by the Finance Ministry, where SMEs receive tax advice to better play their part in the development of the Cameroonian economy.