Access to bank loans is a struggle for very small, small and medium-sized Congolese companies as well as for artisans. Often they do not. It is therefore to facilitate their task that the public authorities have just launched the Impulse, Guarantee and Support Fund (FIGA), which benefits from technical support from Belgium.
From our correspondent in Brazzaville,
Opposite a public university college in the fourth arrondissement, Bertrand Ntona, a 49-year-old basket maker, runs an open-air workshop. With his friends, he never managed to get a loan from a local bank to set up this workshop, which has been in existence for 23 years.
“To have a loan from a bank in the Congo, you must be accompanied by the guarantors, who are Congolese officials. The same guarantors ask you for 10% in return. It does not work that way. I might want a loan of 1 million CFA francs, for example, to develop my business. But in this process, I have to spend up to 600,000 CFA francs for people who have just signed. This is unacceptable, “Mr Ntona apologized.
It is to help artisans like Bertrand Ntona, very small, small and medium-sized companies, that the authorities have set up the Impulse, Guarantee and Support Fund. “Du Figa is expected to provide the necessary guarantees so that SMEs and very small businesses) have access to bank financing,” explains Armel Fridolin Bouloukoué, the very first general manager of Figa.
Financing and expertise
Le Figa has an initial fund of 15 billion CFA francs. “15 billion CFA francs is more than 10 billion CFA francs, which is the minimum amount for a bank in the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (Cemac). It is therefore a good start, and I thank the country’s authorities, “adds Bouloukoué.
Facilitating access to financial and non-financial services is Figa’s primary mission, according to Yvonne Adélaïde Mougany, Minister for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises, who states: “It is not just every project that will benefit from the guarantee. Rather, it is projects that meet the conditions. If you have not studied, a business plan (…). We must not give the credit for an informal business, ”explains Mme Mougany.
Initially, the feasibility studies of the new instrument in support of companies and artisans were funded by Belgium, which will continue to provide its expertise. Jean-Paul Charlier is the prosecutor for the Belgian embassy in Congo.
“It is the academics of Belgian banks, who are a Belgian institution, who take care of the technical assistance for, for example, writing manuals for procedures and all sorts of forms for the subsequent deployment of the fund,” confirms Mr Charlier.
Le Figa will also be tasked with promoting the diversification of the Congolese economy, which is still almost an empty shell without oil.