By Olimatou Coker
The African Solidarity Fund (ASF) through the Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Thursday met Gambia business owners to introduce and discuss their work at a meeting held at GCCI.
The fund mainly focuses on facilitating resources necessary for the realization of investment.
Jean Berchmans Nkurunziza, central director in charge of Strategy and Operations at ASF, said they work mainly with private sector with banks and financial markets and investors.
“We have three main products. The first one, which is very prominent, is guarantee. We use guarantees to permit people to access to financing those guarantees provided in the benefits of SMEs, big enterprises, micro enterprise prices, microfinance institutions”.
He added that access to finance is dedicated mainly to the private sector, saying that in their call of mission, the private sector is the second key after the government.
Jean went on to state that ASF was founded in 1975 and began its operations in 1979. In 2015, he said the organization decided to extend to all African countries and in that context; they invited all African countries, including the Gambia to join the organization.
Sarata Conateh, Chief Executive Officer of GCCI, expressed delight while thanking members of the private sector for gracing the convergence to explore other avenues of accessing finance.
She explained that every time they do a survey at the end of every year access to finance happens to always feature as one of the key challenges of doing business in the Gambia. “Whether it’s accessing it here or internationally, whether its affordability or availability is still limited as a challenge in the Gambia.”
Ebrima Senghore of G-Quiz, said:“I think that the guarantee system that they have can help a lot. But I don’t see that it can help a start up soon more for the SMEs. We need to find more funds or companies or investors that are willing to actually invest in the Gambian tech ecosystem, which we hear a lot of stories about, and we see a lot of, of these major corporations of funds often invite us to these events and these conversations, but nothing happens at the end of the day. So I think it has to be focused more on the tech scene, because that’s the space that actually makes an impact in masses and combat spreads very fast.”
Also speaking in a different engagement with bankers at Coco Ocean, Jean stated: “The relationship between the ASF and the banks is crucially important in the financial landscape and our partnership plays a critical role in supporting the economic and financial development of our member countries. As the guarantee fund, our fundamental mission as ASF is to facilitate access to finance for companies, entrepreneurs, public entities, and governments among others.”
He further reiterated that bankers are at the heart of the process while emphasizing that the expertise, resources and commitment to their client’s success are key to driving our economy.
“Over the few years in its member countries, he added that the partnership between guarantors and banks has evolved in strength. He said they work hand in hand to overcome economic and financial challenges while maintaining an environment of trust for borrowers.”
Allan Kinuka, Business Development Officer of ASF and in charge of the Gambia, stated that their vision is to become, by 2025, a strong and innovative pan-African institution at the service of the structural transformation of member states’ economies.
Dwelling on their mechanisms of intervention, he said that guarantees offered by the ASF include bank loans, guarantees for raising resources (Financial Markets), portfolio guarantees, coverage of public contracts (construction, delivery and services), and import-export operations coverage.
Nnamdi Anozil, vice president of the Bankers Association of The Gambia, assured his association’s commitment, saying they were thrilled by the mission and vision of the organization.
“Going by ASF’s good work in other countries, we don’t have any doubt and we will take advantage to ensure that we move forward, move the lives of the people and the standard of the financial institution of the country,” he said.