“Africa is a land of economic competition,” said French President Emmanuel Macron, in his call for a “French economic revival” following a series of international conferences, including the Summit on Financing African Economies (2021), the New Africa-France Summit (NAFS) and the EU-African Union Summit in 2022.
It marks the repeatedly expressed ambition of “scaling up France’s effort”, which lies at the heart of the first phase of the Choose Africa initiative. More than 40,000 companies and hundreds of thousands of African micro-entrepreneurs have already benefited from it since 2019, the aim being to support and develop African markets and build successful companies.
More than 40,000 companies and hundreds of thousands of African micro-entrepreneurs have already benefited from it since 2018, the aim being to support Africa’s private sector as a job creator and driver of economic growth. “With Choose Africa 2, we’ll be continuing to invest to strengthen and enhance the existing business support system. We’ll also be mobilizing technical and financial tools to broaden our outreach to (very) small entrepreneurs, including in the informal sector, by offering customized amounts,” says Papa Amadou Sarr, AFD's Executive Director for Partnerships Mobilization and Communication.
In addition to targeting entrepreneurs, Choose Africa 2 aims to extend and diversify its services and types of beneficiaries by proposing policy-based partnerships to help interested countries develop public mechanisms to support entrepreneurship.
Four countries – Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal and Togo – will be able to benefit from financial and technical support through grants, sovereign loans and the mobilization of institutions such as Bpifrance, the European Commission and the African Development Bank.
These countries will thereby be assisted with the rapid implementation of their strategies to support entrepreneurship, with a focus on young people and women. AFD Group and Bpifrance will be combining their expertise in providing support and financing to create or strengthen public banks for entrepreneurs. “AFD will mobilize about €200 million by 2024 to support these four countries,” says Papa Amadou Sarr.
Working closely with entrepreneurs
“In this second phase of Choose Africa, Proparco will continue to work closely with African entrepreneurs by facilitating access to credit for more than 22,500 start-ups and MSMEs a year, and by strengthening their equity,” says Françoise Lombard, Chief Executive Officer of Proparco. “These activities have been stepped up under our new strategy ‘Acting together for greater impact’. It’s an impact that directly meets local needs, while African start-ups and MSMEs on average account for 60% of formal employment and 40% of national GDP.
To provide easy access to its services and optimize the support for entrepreneurs, the Choose Africa 2 initiative will be based on four thematic gateways, geared towards tech start-ups, young entrepreneurs, cultural and creative industries and companies set up by the diaspora.
The aim is also to provide training for entrepreneurs, and to combine support and financing through pan-African “facilities” (including Meet Africa and Afrique Créative) and national programs dedicated to entrepreneurship (such as “Pour Elles”, which focus businesswomen).
Capacity building and job creation
AFD Group will also design university-level courses comprising free and open-source (MOOCs) and offering core training tailored to the pathways of entrepreneurs. The objective will also be to strengthen and deploy the existing tried-and-tested programs, and in particular continue and/or develop start-up support programs, such as “regionalized” Social Inclusive Business Camps, jump programs, networks (including SAEs and among entrepreneurs), mentoring and mutual aid groups for entrepreneurs.
Further reading: “Choose Africa on Air” Webcast: Spotlight on Entrepreneurial Africa
This new phase of Choose Africa, launched in 2018 following the Ouagadougou speech, builds on its success. Choose Africa I has supported the development of entrepreneurship and innovation in Africa through the intermediary of 250 local partners, including incubators, investment funds, local banks and microfinance institutions. Between 2018 and 2022, this program already committed €3.5 billion of financing, facilitating access to credit for thousands of companies of all sizes. It is estimated that these efforts will help safeguard or create two million direct and indirect jobs in Africa over the next five years.
Further information about the platform is available at Choose-Africa.com, an information and guidance portal designed for entrepreneurs and partners of AFD Group, or watch this video to hear from some of the people involved.