Youth To Benefit From New Partnership To Boost Financial Inclusion In DRC

Farmers, youth, women and small businesses in the Democratic Republic of the Congo will gain better access to financial services following the launch of a new project between FSD Africa and Equity Bank Congo.

The three-year US$2.8 million project will train and enroll at least 4,000 people to become bank agents across 22 of DRC’s 26 provinces. Once trained, the “Equity Cash Express” agents will help unbanked populations in rural areas gain better access to financial services including savings accounts, credit and micro-insurance products.

Agency banking, where local people are trained to provide banking services, is proving to be a viable approach for increasing financial inclusion in previously underserved areas. By 2021, the project aims to have opened one million new savings accounts, approved 10,000 loans and issued 5,000 new insurance products. A large proportion of these products will be opened by farmers and small businesses who until now have had limited access to formal financial services.

Poor infrastructure, a large geography and a prolonged civil war means financial inclusion rates in DRC remain low. Out of a population of 88 million, more than 25 million remain excluded from the financial system, while only 14 per cent of people have an account at a financial institution.

While financial institutions have expanded their branch network in recent years, access to financial services remains limited once outside DRC’s key economic zones of Kinshasa, Matadi, Lubumbashi, Kivu and Goma. Only seven per cent of Congolese are employed within the formal sector, with the remainder working in the informal economy. With limited access to financial services, those working within the informal sector have limited ability to weather political, environmental and economic instability or access capital to grow their businesses or pay for emergencies like unexpected health costs.

Paul Musoke, Director, Financial Institutions, FSD Africa said: “We know that when people in fragile states, like DRC, have better access to financial services their lives improve, and the economy grows. FSD Africa is supporting Equity Bank’s vision of providing inclusive financial services to all. This project will increase access to finance for previously unserved and underserved customers in DRC, improving their livelihoods and resilience while demonstrating the potential of agency banking in a fragile and conflict affected state such as DRC. ”

Celestin Mukeba, Managing Director of Equity Bank Congo said: “At Equity Bank Congo, we have been implementing state-of-the-art Agency Banking technology for over three years. Today we have more than 2,100 accredited agents, working across Kinshasa, central Kongo, Bandundu, the two Kivus and Grand Katanga. Our new service, “Equity Cash Express”, will allow our clients to carry out banking transactions quickly, easily and safely via our network of accredited agents.

Thanks to “Multipay”, Equity Cash Express will also give customers of three other partner banks the opportunity to make withdrawals. Our authorized agents can be traders, food stores, pharmacies and other forms of shop, throughout the DRC.

This new local service will reduce the cost of banking transactions for our clients, and generate additional income for our Equity Bank agents, who will earn paid commissions from working with us. Our partnership with FSD Africa will support us to expand our services across the country, benefiting our bank and our customers in the long-term.”

Source Busiweek

Egypt: Sisi requests support, loans for entrepreneurial youth

BY Al-Masry Al-Youm

Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi held a meeting with Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouli, Governor of Port Said Adel al-Ghadban, and several populist and student leaders on
Tuesday, asking the government to provide youth with the necessary facilitation and loans for carrying out their projects, presidency spokesperson Bassam Radi said.

Radi added that Sisi also asked the government to support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and reduce the cost of installing industrial and productive projects.

Sisi also said that the government and the people should work together to help in making the comprehensive social insurance project succeed.

Sisi was keen on following up the development plans, service programs and direct interaction between the government and civilians as part of the governmental efforts to take decisions in cooperation with the society.

Sisi directed the government to improve the efficiency of Lake el-Manzala and to remove the encroachments.

Sisi said in January that his country is keen to take several measures to support entrepreneurial youth.

He stressed during a speech at the preliminary meeting of young entrepreneurs in Africa that Egypt’s policy towards youth in this area depends on a range of encouraging means.

During the session, part of the Africa 2018 Forum being held at the Red Sea resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh, Sisi explained that the measures taken by the government to support and empower the youth, especially in the area of entrepreneurship, include the state institutions being mandated to unify their efforts to establish the first regional center for entrepreneurship in Egypt with the aim of providing all necessary support to the emerging companies in the country.

Source Egypt Independent

Nigeria plans entrepreneur bank

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has said the country plans to establish an Entrepreneur Bank to provide flexibility in provision of facilities to businesses.

Osinbajo disclosed this while fielding questions from a cross-section of women who ply their trade in various fields at a programme tagged `Next Level Conversation’ on Monday in Abuja.

The women, who were mostly entrepreneurs, were drawn from the education, environment, agriculture, real estate, hospitality among other sectors.

The vice president said that the issue of giving cheap loans to small businesses had featured prominently in the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration.

Nigeria, he said, has been able to deal to some extent with small and micro businesses; we have TraderMoni, MarketMoni, FarmerMoni; which are basically very small credit schemes.

“We are also looking at an Enterprise Bank or an Entrepreneur Bank which is one of the types of establishment we are looking at.

“We think there is a need for a bank that will be a bit more nimble about entrepreneurship; a bank that has a bit more flexibility.

“That is why we are talking about Entrepreneur Bank; of course, we will need a bill in the National Assembly; in the meantime, we think we can start with a bond to put a lot around it without necessarily building another big bureaucracy,’’ he said.

Osinbajo said there was need to properly fund education as efforts were been made to get the Tertiary Education Trust Fund(TETFund) to also fund the private sector.

He reiterated that the issue of funding education lied with the Federal, State and Local Governments.

More so, the vice president said that the Federal Government would synergise with state and local governments to curb multiple taxation which had adverse effect on businesses.

The ministers of Women Affairs and Finance participated in the interaction.

Source NTA

Sports: Ghanaian youngster Emmanuel Besea joins Venezia FC on loan

By Emmanuel Besea

Ghanaian midfielder Emmanuel Besea has completed a loan move from Frosinone Calcio to Venezia FC in the ongoing transfer window.

The 21-year-old endured a difficult season with the Canaries after failing to register a single appearance in the first half of the campaign.

The former Modena youth product will hope to make a great impact for Walter Zenga’s side after reposing their trust in securing his services in their quest to avoid relegation at the end of the season.

Meanwhile, Besea’s compatriot Raman Chibsah has so far been an integral member of the Lazio-based side’s set-up in the ongoing campaign.

Venezia is currently languishing in the drop zone with 22 points after 19 game matches.

Source Ghanaian Soccernet

What the Big Banks Won’t Tell You About Business Loans

By Leigh Buchanan

An SBA-backed loan could be a great option for your business. But you can’t count on big banks to help you, new research shows.

Last year 2018, SBA administrator Linda McMahon told Inc. magazine that her agency is “the best kept secret in the country.” If entrepreneurs keep going to the wrong banks, it may stay a secret.

Large banks like Wells Fargo are often lauded as active Small Business Administration lenders. And, in fact, they do process a significant volume of SBA-backed loans, which offer entrepreneurs lower interest rates and down payments, and longer repayment terms than ordinary bank loans. But the large banks’ numbers are less impressive when compared with much smaller banks, some of which specialize in such loans.

After the recession, many large banks stepped away from small-business loans, although they have been returning to that business over the past few years. But small-business loans are less profitable and riskier than larger loans made to bigger businesses.

“Large banks don’t have to lend to small businesses to survive,” says Ami Kassar, CEO of MultiFunding, an Ambler, Pennsylvania, business that helps small and midsize companies find debt financing. (Kassar is also an columnist.) That means some big banks are less likely to introduce and explain SBA-backed loans to clients, says Kassar. Since most small-business owners get lending information from their bankers, and many patronize local branches of large banks, they may never even learn such loans are an option.

To illustrate the disparity, MultiFunding recently conducted a study of SBA lending activity that uses the number of a bank’s branches as a proxy for its size and reach. Among the 10 largest banks based on assets, TD Bank generated the most 7(a) loans (the SBA’s most popular program) in 2017, with an average of three per branch. Wells Fargo ranked second, with an average of one SBA loan per branch in 2017.

“It’s important to note that SBA lending is only a portion of our total small-business lending, and retail branches are just one of Wells Fargo’s delivery channels to serve the lending needs of small business owners,” says Jim Seitz, Wells Fargo’s communications manager for small business and business banking. “Wells Fargo is committed to SBA lending in every market we serve, with a dedicated SBA lending team to meet the needs of small businesses across the United States.”

Bank of America ranked last among large banks on MultiFunding’s ranking, producing on average one SBA-backed loan for every 30 branches. Don Vecchiarello, a spokesman for Bank of America, also emphasized that the company is very active in the small-business market generally. He says the company’s SBA loan business represents just 5 percent of its substantial small-business offerings–and that it is a growing part.

“Since 2015 we have tripled the number of people we have working in our SBA group,” says Vecchiarello. “As far as the 7(a) product, in 2016 we have nearly doubled the amount of loan production.” The company is also a perennial top five lender in the SBA’s 504 program to finance the purchase of fixed assets.

Still, compare those results with three single-location institutions: Celtic Bank, in Salt Lake City, which approved 1,417 loans in 2017; Independence Bank, of East Greenwich, Rhode Island, which approved 1,141; and Live Oak Bank, in Wilmington, North Carolina, which approved 1,055. Several non-bank lenders, such as Newtek and Readycap Lending, also outperformed big banks.

Live Oak Bank, founded in 2008 to provide SBA loans to veterinary practices, is online-only, which MultiFunding counts as a single branch. Today, the company serves 19 vertical niches, and about 63 percent of its loans are SBA-backed.

“There are some industries where business owners have historically received SBA loans, and so in those industries they have a little bit more knowledge,” says Mike McGinley, group general manager for Live Oak Bank. “In our average industry, though, we have to do a lot of education.” Health care, accounting, and agriculture businesses are among those often in need of introduction to the SBA program. The company also created an online tool to significantly streamline the process.

For its part, the SBA has been trying to make its loan programs more visible. McMahon recently finished a tour of communities around the U.S., during which she promoted the SBA’s products and services, including the loan programs. And the agency launched an online tool to match small-business owners with SBA lenders. But “the SBA can’t really control what Bank of America does or does not tell their clients,” says Kassar.

Of course some small-business owners who know about SBA-backed loans choose not to pursue them because they’re put off by the paperwork.

“It can be a real pain in the rear end,” says Kassar. “But if you can get 10 years, rather than five years, to pay back a loan, and it takes you a few extra hours of paperwork, that is probably worth it.”

In the end, the message isn’t small-banks-good/big-banks-bad, says Kassar. Rather, it is find the right bank for you. That could be a large provider. “We are big fans” of SBA loans, says Tom Pretty, head of SBA lending for TD Bank, where 7(a)s make up 41 percent of small-business loan activity. “We go out of our way to show customers all the different options.”

Small-business owners should ask about a potential lender’s experience with SBA-backed loans and how many they approve, Kassar recommends. And avoid throwing in the towel too early. “Don’t assume that just because one bank did not mention the SBA or told you that you were not qualified that that is gospel,” says Kassar. “If you were told that by five banks, then that is probably not for you.”

This article was first published at Inc