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SPEECH: Statement by SG Chambas on the high level workshop on Enhancing Access to Finance for SMEs in ACP countries

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 Brussels 15 July 2011
Excellencies Ambassadors, Distinguished Representatives of International and Regional Institutions, Ladies and Gentlemen, It is a great pleasure for me to welcome you all to the ACP House today.
I am very happy to note the presence of so many participants to this important workshop. I recognise in particular several leaders and representatives from our regional financial and economic institutions.
Thank you for having spared time off your very busy schedules to be amongst us here today. Excellencies Ambassadors, Distinguished Representatives of International Regional Institutions, Ladies and Gentlemen, This workshop has been organised as a follow up to the mandate given by the ACP Council of Ministers at its 92nd Session, in November 2010.
Indeed it would be recalled that the Ministers adopted a Resolution on the Investment Facility, whereby it underscored the catalytic role of the EIB in the development of ACP States. In that regard, the need for flexible and innovative measures to respond to the investment needs of the ACP countries, were in particular highlighted.
Furthermore Ministers also called upon the need to address the problem of small ACP states, which in view of their inherent physical and financial constraints are not always able to propose projects with budgets above € 5M.
Last but not least, Ministers also mandated the Committee of Ambassadors to reflect on ways and means to ensure a greater effectiveness in the delivery of funds to the ACP regions, in line with the Paris Declaration.
Colleagues, Your experience and contributions are of vital importance to us as we are launching this reflection process, which has as its ultimate objective has to assist in enhancing the access to finance for SMEs in ACP Countries.
Access to finance is one of the major, if not the major stumbling block to growth and development of SMEs. Indeed, SMEs are the backbone of our economies and the promotion of their development is crucial in fostering entrepreneurship, competition, innovation, and hence growth of our economies.
The EIB through the Investment Facility has the potential to assist ACP countries in the structural transformation of our SMEs into competitive ones. This is why the issue of the Investment Facility features high on our agenda today.
Together we would also reflect on how best to improve the efficiency in the delivery of Investment Facility to the ACP countries and regions. Excellencies Ambassadors, Distinguished Representatives of International Regional Institutions, Ladies and Gentlemen, We will have the opportunity today to address the following subjects: - the needs of SMEs in ACP countries; - the relevant instruments and channels to meet the SME needs; and - the alternatives for enhancing access to finance by SMEs.
We would also have the possibility to address the issue of financing of SMEs in the context of regional integration, notably for regional infrastructure projects and trade. Certainly, we hope that we will have concrete recommendations under each specific topic mentioned above.
We would in this regard, really encourage you to come up with creative and innovative approaches Excellencies Ambassadors, Distinguished Representatives of International and Regional Institutions, Ladies and Gentlemen, To conclude, I have to stress that today’s exercise is just the beginning of our reflection process. Indeed the Secretariat is in parallel commissioning a study to explore ways and means for enhancing the access of ACP SMEs to finance, in particular to the Investment Facility.
Furthermore we also foresee more workshops in the near future to pursue and deepen our reflection around this topic. Given the complexity of this subject it would be most useful to have the advice and guidance of the eminent experts present here today.
In this regard, I would propose the setting up of an Ad-hoc Technical Advisory working Group to assist us in our reflection process and invite the Experts around the table to join hands with us in our endeavour to foster the development of competitive and resilient SMEs in the ACP countries, in line with the mandate of our Ministers.
With these words, I thank you all for your attention and wish us all fruitful deliberations.

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