The first Africa SME Champions Forum, slated for 11-12 November, will be held in Dakar, organisers announced Tuesday.
In a statement, obtained by PANA, the organisers said the event would bring together some 300 SMEs from the five regions of Africa.
The specialist recruitment agency, AfricSearch, the African Guarantee Fund and the pan-African bank Ecobank are the organisers of the forum, devoted exclusively to African SMEs.
“This forum will be the first direct access platform to finance the SMEs,” Didier Acouetey, founder of AfricSearch, said.
According to the statement, SMEs represent 90% of privately-owned African companies, 33% of the continent’s GDP and account for 45% of new jobs.
”In addition to the 300 SMEs, a number of financial institutions will be present as well as high-quality experts and policymakers and in total some 600 people are expected in Dakar,” the statement noted.
The SMEs will be invited to the forum based on strict criteria: they must be officially registered in Africa, have been legally created at least three years ago, have turnover of at least US$1.5 million and a minimum workforce of 10 employees.
“The idea is to bring together, at a single location, an entire range of tools, networks and services dedicated to SMEs to allow them to put in place, on their return, the methods shared by the community of the Africa SME Champions Forum,” Didier Acouetey, added.
The statement also revealed that the forum will focus on concrete solutions to the numerous challenges facing African managers.
A further highlight of the forum will be ”the Africa SME Champions Awards” which is sponsored by the African Guarantee Fund and it will reward the champions of the future and the top-class financial institutions in support of SMEs.