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SMEs: The awaited return of Africa SME Champions Forum

The Pan African SME Forum is back in Kampala (Uganda) on October 6 and 7, after a two-year hiatus. To prepare the economic recovery, the Forum has chosen the country “Champion of Entrepreneurship”.

By M.A.

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The numbers speak for themselves. SMEs account for about 90% of businesses and create between 60% and 80% of jobs on the African continent. They contribute to 40% of the GDP. After two difficult years, owing to the health crisis, the SME Forum, whose purpose is to facilitate access to financing, was a much-awaited event. The seventh edition of the Forum will be hosted at the Speke Resort Munyonyo, in Kampala, announces the AfricSearch Group.   

This year will see the launch of Africa SME Growth, in partnership with the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (BADEA). The objective is to bring together all the ecosystem players to focus on three key components for the recovery of SMEs: training of business leaders and organizational transformation of businesses, access to finance and market access. 

“80% of VSEs/SMEs experienced income loss during health crisis

“Very small and medium enterprises (VSEs/SMEs) have been singularly affected by the health crisis and surveys that have been conducted in different countries of the continent have shown that nearly 80% have experienced an income loss and have not secured the needed support from public authorities, said Didier Acouetey CEO of AfricSearch, a leading recruitment firm in Francophone Africa and General Commissioner of the forum.

Dr. Sidi Ould Tah, CEO of BADEA said: “The African continent must rely on the entire range of its players to cope with the phenomena of crisis which often generate profound changes for VSE-SMEs that represent the heart of our economy. In addition, this initiative will be backed by an investment fund to increase their capital according to their needs.

Uganda, youngest country in the world, third largest economy in East Africa

It is therefore no coincidence that, after South Africa, Uganda was picked as the host country for the event. “It is the third largest economy in East Africa. The country has scored very good economic performance over the past decades and growth is expected to remain dynamic despite the pandemic that also affected the economy. Large projects, especially in the oil sector and infrastructure, should boost the economy and offer many opportunities to SMEs across the value chain,” says Didier Acouetey. The country, known as the “Champion of Entrepreneurship,” also has one of the most diversified agricultural sectors “with considerable opportunities for SMEs” he adds. Uganda is also the youngest country in the world, with 56% of its population under the age of 18.

Launched in Dakar in 2014, the forum dedicated to African SMEs has passed through Nairobi, Abidjan, Kigali and Johannesburg. This is to facilitate interconnection between African businesses as a priority. In the first twelve months following their participation in this forum, 30% of SMEs that participated in previous editions had access to financing. The rate has reached 55% in the last five years according to a review of 2019, just before the pandemic. 

This year, for the much hoped for “revival,” the two-day Forum will bring together more than 500 participants, including 400 impact African SMEs, as many executives, financial institutions, a host of innovative start-ups and other experts.

Read more: http://africa-smechampions.com/fr/forum-africa-sme-champions/

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