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SUPPORTING SMES IS KEY TO AFRICA’S DEVELOPMENT

Meeting with Amélie Thomas, Head of the SME sector for Africa at Societe Generale, and Aïssatou Rassoul  Gueye, Head of the SME house in Dakar.
For what reasons has Societe Generale Group decided to commit to the development of SMEs on the continent?

AMÉLIE THOMAS : Societe Generale has a solid and historic presence in Africa with 17 universal banking subsidiaries. Also, the commitment to sustainable development on the continent is part of the Group’s strategic plan and materializes through the ‘‘Grow with Africa’’ initiative, one of the major axes of which is support for African SMEs.

AÏSSATOU RASSOUL GUEYE : Indeed, SMEs are at the heart of the development process of African economies. They represent 90% of private companies and employ 70% of the population. They are therefore essential, especially in the emergence of the African middle class, for broad access to employment and thus to promote the development of local content.

“  We want to facilitate African SMEs’ access to financing solutions and to remove the main obstacles to the development of their activity.  ”

What are the main levers available?

A.T.: We want to facilitate African SMEs’ access to our financing solutions and increase the financing amount significantly. Our goal is to increase outstanding loans by 60% over five years, by the end of 2022. But our strategy goes well beyond. We want to help the managers of SMEs to structure their processes and remove the main obstacles to the development of their activity.

A-R. G.: Ultimately, this is multidimensional support that we carry out in cooperation with international players such as
AFD-Proparco, Bpifrance,Investisseurs et Partenaires, and Réseau Entreprendre.
The "Maison de la PME du Sénégal" in Dakar, created on the initiative of Societe Generale, is also a perfect illustration of this approach.

What is it about?

A-R. G.: The concept of the Maison de la PME (House of SME), inaugurated in Dakar in November 2018, is a concrete response to the issue of monitoring and financing SMEs, by proposing a global offer of financial and non-financial services.
The House offers, in the same space, access to local and international players and their services such as training MOOCs, private equity, digization, insurance, capacity building, networking, coaching, etc.

A.T.: At each stage of the company’s development, the advisers of the Maison de la PME are able to make a diagnosis, identify the specific need of the company and make a support proposal. The Maison de la PME is open to all companies, whether Societe Generale clients or not. The concept has been replicated in seven other African countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea and Madagascar). The 9th House will soon be opened in Mozambique.
 


You plan to launch a mobile app soon...

A-R. G. : Within the health context we know, we had to reinvent ourselves digitally to maintain contact with customers and partners. From there came the idea of developing an application ‘‘Maison PME’’, downloadable for free on smartphone. It will enable the consultation of the news of the House and its partners, to make an appointment with an advisor, to get in touch with other companies via a database, to receive notifications of calls. offers, etc. The app is in the testing phase and should be available shortly.

A.T. : This app illustrates our desire to provide support that is both comprehensive and as operational as possible. This tool should soon be available in other countries where SME Houses have been set up.


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