The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has launched a “Rapid Financing Facility” to support Cameroon’s small and medium-sized enterprises affected by COVID-19 in the agro-industrial sector.
UNDP officials in Yaounde said: “the support includes among other things, the reinforcement of capacities (institutional, technical, economic, financial, marketing) through the development of entrepreneurial coaching services and agricultural advice, the financing of productive investments, (light equipment, raw materials etc.) and the putting in place of relation/facilitation of business links between the actors (producers, transformers, traders, furnishers of financial and non-financial services etc).”
The project would equally furnish numeric tools to small and medium-sized enterprises to better manage their businesses and acquire pertinent information to facilitate access to financing.
The UNDP subventions on inputs and light equipment could be made in the form of purchase orders to beneficiary enterprises.
Needs such as land, construction of houses, big rolling material (agricultural tractors, vehicles, big trucks etc) are not eligible but the UNDP could also give technical assistance lasting from nine to 12 months (studies, training, coaching, mentoring, linkage to financial institutions, marketing, digitization etc).
For equipment which costs between 5 and 10 million FCFA (about$10,000 and $20,000), the UNDP would give a subvention of 60 per cent and the financing would only be made available on the existence of effective proof of the financial contribution from the business promoter.
The support is available for enterprises owned by a young man or woman between 18 and 35 years, or an elderly woman between thirty-six and fifty-five years.
Priority would be given to enterprises operating in cassava, plantain, fruits and vegetables, cereals, milk, animal husbandry, fishing, and non-wood forestry products which play an important role in the economic autonomisation of youths and women in Cameroon.
The UNDP noted that despite their importance, small and medium-sized enterprises are faced with multiple challenges, notably the lack of information, lack of capacities and know-how concerning the development of enterprises, limited access to financing and technology, in particular for the women with an average of 53 per cent who do not have access to formal services and banking options.
Additionally, the global interest rate imposed on small and medium-sized enterprises is 10.5 per cent as against 5.5 per cent for the big enterprises.