African Businesses And Entrepreneurs At The Heart Of Proparco’s New Strategy 2023-2027 “Acting Together For Greater Impact”

Proparco is a key player in the development sector, which has been dedicated to financing the private sector for over 45 years. Proparco has been operating in an extraordinarily complex international environment, especially since 2022. Faced with the climate crisis and growing inequalities, the African private sector holds the key to helping to resolve some of these long-term challenges. Based on this conviction, Proparco intends to step up its support for African entrepreneurs by further adapting its approach to the real needs of the economy and to invest in new markets. 


The African private sector, in particular SMEs and micro-businesses, are now more than ever the main engine of growth and innovation on the Continent. SMEs account for  90% of formal businesses and account for about 60% of formal jobs1. Yet the African private sector has a real need for financing, as only 20% of SMEs on the continent have access to bank loans. 

Proparco, a subsidiary of the French Development Agency (AFD), will capitalise on its historical expertise on the continent to support African businesses in the coming years.  Investments will be allocated both to the financing of infrastructure, whose proper  functioning is essential for the deployment of African businesses, and for supporting 

SMEs, micro-businesses and high-impact startups. The idea is to ensure continuity by providing entrepreneurs with the means to develop their activities. 


We live in a time of major challenges, and on the African continent the private sector  is a breeding ground for initiatives, innovation and sustainable wealth. Supporting the  real needs of the economy will provide the African private sector with the means to  solve the continent’s most important challenges, while creating local, non-relocatable  employment and adding value. 

Proparco’s approach is focused on some of the major challenges facing Africa:  building a sustainable and resilient economy, protecting the planet and fighting inequalities. This will be reflected in Proparco’s strong support for the most responsible  projects that mitigate the consequences of climate change, enabling populations to  adapt to it more effectively, or projects that reduce territorial, gender or socio-economic inequalities. Proparco will mobilise all its sectoral expertise – from financing  SMEs to strengthening physical infrastructure and local financial systems – to boost its  impact across these sectors. 

The fight against food insecurity, particularly in relation to the crisis in Ukraine, will be a priority for Proparco, particularly by strengthening local production and processing capacity for vulnerable African companies affected by the crisis.  

To maximise the impact of these strategic initiatives, Proparco is refining its analysis and monitoring process. Impacts will be identified and analysed at all stages of the relationship with Proparco’s partners; from the beginning of project appraisal through a sustainable development rating, through project implementation thanks to more extensive and longer-term technical support, and up to the final evaluation through the analysis and monitoring of results (both estimated and actual). Thus, the impact from projects carried out by our partners will not be limited to the final and quantitative results of the project but will also include projects’ capacity to evolve in terms of ESG criteria, which will enhance sustainability over the long term. 


Through this new strategy, Proparco has chosen to explore new markets. More specifically, Proparco will encourage investors to bet on innovation, especially in enterprises and projects operating in fragile environments or emerging sectors, based on the conviction that the emergence of new ecosystems and financing instruments will be one of the keys to successfully supporting the private sector.  

Françoise Lombard, Proparco’s Chief Executive Officer, declared during the launch  of this new strategy:  

Proparco’s new strategy is underpinned by a strong conviction: good entrepreneurial  projects which are helping to solve the continent’s most pressing problems deserve to  be supported, regardless of the economic environment and in line with the Paris  Agreement. We are determined to go where other investors have not yet gone, by  moving closer to the field to be as close as possible to our partners’ and their needs, to deploy our resources effectively. We are therefore making a big call towards 

enabling growth in new markets and taking more risk to help more innovative projects  to bear fruit.” 

To support this ambition, Proparco will benefit from additional resources from the  French Government and the European Union, which will increase its funding and non financial support. 

Two flagship initiatives that illustrate the new strategy

Choose Africa, an initiative by the French Agency for Development (AFD) and its  subsidiary Proparco, has committed EUR 3.5 billion between 2018 and 2022 and  supported more than 40,000 businesses and hundreds of thousands of micro businesses across the continent. Thanks to this initiative, nearly 8, 700 businesses have  benefited from dedicated technical support. Proparco will contribute to  strengthening the initiative as part of a second Choose Africa programme.  

Digital Africa, Proparco subsidiary, provides support and financial backing for African  start-ups requiring seed funding. Its programs (Talent 4 Startups Bridge, Fuzé, etc.)  complement Proparco and the AFD Group’s support to African businesses at every  stage of their development, namely the seed investment stage (Digital Africa),  venture capital stage (Digital Africa and Proparco), financing and support for public  (AFD) and private (Proparco) financial institutions, a range of guarantees for financial  institutions (Proparco), and private equity for SMEs in the growth and maturity phase. 

Two examples of projects  

Since 2017, Proparco has been supporting GoMyCode, a Tunisian startup whose mission is to bridge the gap between the existing educational infrastructure in Africa and the digital skills required in the job market. The company is now present in 7  countries in North Africa and West Africa and welcomes 1,000 new students every  month. 

Since 2022, Proparco has also been supporting Anka, a company specialising in software solutions that enable African SMEs to market their products on the internet and internationally. The company now employs 40 people. 

1 Source AFP des-petites-et-moyennes-entreprises-en-afrique