38th Midi de la microfinance et de l'inclusion financière 

Stimulating the entrepreneurial revolution in Africa!

Luxembourg, 8 March 2017

Entrepreneurship issues in Africa were discussed in a very full meeting at Banque de Luxembourg during the 38th Midi of Microfinance, with two speakers familiar with the continent: Jean-Michel Severino, President of the Investisseurs et Partenaires Fund ( I & P) for African SMEs and co-author of the book "Entreprenante Afrique", Eric Campos, General Delegate of the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation. The discussion of the two guests was moderated by Luc Vandeweerd, ADA's Executive Advisor.

Africa, a dynamic environment for entrepreneurship

"Investing in Africa is like investing in Europe. Structurally it is the same job. What changes are the conditions" says Eric Campos, General Delegate of the Grameen Agricultural Foundation.

The creation of local businesses can generate job creation in Africa: 200 million jobs can be created thanks to these small and medium entrepreneurs, many of whom are women,  an incredibly relevant fact on this International Women's Day. These actors have the opportunity to create new jobs in the middle class and to provide equitable resources, both environmental and social.

But to start, they encounter great difficulties, mostly concerning access to funds. Unfortunately few investors are willing to finance small businesses, not to mention the local banking sector, who has also been reluctant to step in. Indeed, banks, which are absent from the places where these SMEs emerge or are uninterested in these clients lacking in equity or guarantee, can not provide financing to local entrepreneurs.

Jean-Michel Severino is Head of Investors and Partners, a fund that has been financing African SMEs for more than 15 years, from 30,000 to 2 million Euros. Today, the I & P portfolio has 70 companies, 40% of which are start-ups.

According to the speakers of this Midi, the financial companion of SMEs must have a transversal vision of the value chain. In addition, to reduce the investor's fees, the creation of a local investment fund is more promising and profitable, with a more secure and quick follow-up. With this in mind, I & P now supports 3 national investment funds in selected countries in Africa.

Eric Campos pointed out that entrepreneurs in the Global South can not be distinguished from those in the North. The difference comes mainly from the system in which they want to grow, which is very turbulent and unstable in most African countries. Jean-Michel Severino added that it is also easier to find an idea to develop in Africa than in Europe, because everything remains to be done. On the other hand, the setbacks to entrepreneurship often come from everyday life, from blackouts and poor infrastructure tolack of adequate suppliers or lack of qualified human resources.

Another challenge facing SMEs is unequal competition from large groups as well as foreign entrepreneurs, mainly Chinese, who are breaking prices.

Africa is a very changeable continent with many unforeseen circumstances that can hinder any entrepreneur, but Jean-Michel Severino stressed that adaptability to this changing universe, resilience and entrepreneurial creativity are the keys of the success. To paraphrase Jean-Michel Severino, there are three determining factors for the success of an SME in Africa: "entrepreneur first, then entrepreneur and finally entrepreneur".

The next African Microfinance Week on SME development

Last year, ADA created a structure to support the development of SMEs in the countries of the South. It must be said that their social and economic role is the key of a sustainable development. Thus, from 9 to 13 October 2017, ADA will organize the largest microfinance conference that brings together all major African economic players, the African Microfinance Week. This third edition will be devoted to the theme of SMEs.

Watch the video of the 38th Midi!

Speakers of this Midi

Jean-Michel Severino, President of the Investors and Partners (I & P) fund for African SMEs and co-author of the book "Entreprenante Afrique", France

Born in Abidjan in 1957, Severino devoted himself to the nascent area of ​​impact investing to support the growth of small and medium-sized enterprises in sub-Saharan Africa. A choice that is part of a career focused primarily on international development and its financing.

Severino was Director of Development at the French Ministry of Cooperation, Vice President for East Asia at the World Bank (1996-2000), and Director General of the French Development Agency (AFD) From 2001 to 2010.

He is currently President of Investors & Partners (I & P) and shares his expertise in numerous books, the latest of which, co-written with Jérémy Hajdenberg, is "Entreprenante Afrique".




Eric Campos, General Delegate of the Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation

Mr. Campos has extensive experience in retail banking, in France and internationally, and in development assistance.

In 1993, he joined the Agence Française de Développement to conduct evaluation missions to development programs in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific.

In 1996, he was seconded to the finance company for the development of Réunion.

In 2001, he joined the Crédit Agricole Group. Between 2006 and 2010, he joined Crédit Agricole SA International Retail Banking to take on development functions.




Lucienne Andring, Senior Business Development Manager - Professionnal Banking Services of Banque de Luxembourg

Lucienne Andring joined Banque de Luxembourg in 2000, where she held various positions, including being head of relationship management for UCITS funds and setting-up and heading a team servicing funds investing in illiquid assets.

She was in charge of microfinance, impact and energy efficiency funds initiated by specialized investment managers and development finance institutions.

Mrs Andring has extensive experience in depositary and central administration services for investment funds. She is a member of various working groups at ALFI and LPEA.



Photo-Luc Vandeweerd

Luc Vandeweerd, Executive advisor at ADA

Luc Vandeweerd graduated in 1978 from the Catholic University of Louvain-la-Neuve in Belgium with a Master's degree in Social Communication.

He has worked for 20 years at the International Labor Organization (ILO) as an expert in cooperatives and microfinance on various technical cooperation projects in Africa.

From 1992 to 2002, Mr. Vandeweerd was appointed Director of the PASMEC project in Dakar, Senegal, to support the development of microfinance in West Africa. This project was implemented by the ILO in collaboration with the Central Bank of West African States. In 2002, he joined the NGO ADA in Luxembourg.




The “Midis de la microfinance” are jointly organised by ADA, the Banque de Luxembourg, and BRS. They are supported by the Luxembourg Directorate for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Affairs and InFiNe.lu. The conferences are held during lunch breaks, between 12 and 2 pm. Their agenda includes the presentation by an inclusive-finance expert of a study or a practical case, which is followed by a Question and Answer session and buffet lunch.


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