Bpifrance supports French companies and their partners in Africa

Arnaud Floris, Regional Manager for West, Central, and North Africa, presents the opportunities of choosing to implement in one of these areas and the correct system and strategy to succeed in the African eco-system.  

The African continent is in full mutation, which makes it the right moment for businesses to position themselves in it. Choosing Africa is a strategy that pays off and we have decided to accompany our SMEs and ETIs at every step.

"Dare Africa! " recently said Franck Riester, Minister Delegate for Foreign Trade and Attractiveness. Bpifrance's teams support French companies at each phase every stage of their turn of events and development, providing them with loans, guarantees, insurance, and investment so they can wander into the African landmass with complete true serenity.

Arnaud Floris, Regional Manager for West, Central, and North Africa, explains to us what his missions consist of and the opportunities to be seized on the ground. "The challenge, both for French companies in Africa and for African companies in France, is to move towards the emergence of fruitful and sustainable partnerships. This is what guides our entire strategy on the continent.

The development of the African working class (middle class) addresses an incredible monetary potential :

Africa is made up of 54 nations with totally different conditions and environments. However, generally speaking, most nations have a quickly developing working class.  "This is a key source of private sector growth - and at the national level, of economic diversification," says Floris. Some sectors represent real opportunities, such as agribusiness. "And there are many of them because the agribusiness sector involves not only production but also all aspects related to the development of an agri-food chain, from the selection of raw materials, processing, and transformation of products, to storage, packaging, and sales. "Other areas such as transportation, road construction, and access to electricity offer great opportunities on the continent.”

If the African continent becomes more and more attractive, it is partly due to the improvement of the political and economic environment. “From Rabat to Johannesburg, it is less and less risky to do business. There is a general improvement in governance, transparency, quality of institutions, and rules of law in many countries. Governments are becoming more competent and more oriented to the private sector,” he said.

During the Covid-19 health crisis, the continent has shown flexibility and is by all accounts less affected than the rest of the world. Particularly in the service industry, the impact on supply and demand is not as important as in other parts of the world. However, as in other places, demand from the tourism and catering industry has also fallen drastically. But Arnaud Floris assured us: "The post-Covid recovery will be strong and rapid for most countries and most economic sectors. Now, we must be in a good position to compete.”

Connecting French and African entrepreneurs :

To develop an entrepreneurial project on the African continent, Bpifrance provides support from the prospecting phase to the final establishment. First and foremost, it is important to carefully choose the area in which to set up your business, by analyzing the prospects for deployment on a regional scale. The Ivory Coast, for example, represents a "hub country", from which it is easy to project to neighboring states, and therefore strategic to establish a regional headquarters. Nigeria and Ghana, on the other hand, are "destination countries" because they are less connected to a regional group. Bpifrance teams offer tools to facilitate prospecting efforts. "Prospecting insurance is a cash advance to finance prospecting expenses. It is fully reimbursable from the fourth year onwards only if the prospecting is deemed successful. It is, therefore, a wonderful tool, which is still not well known," emphasizes Arnaud Floris. But this is just one example of the many solutions offered by Bpifrance, ranging from financing to investment to business support. Recently, 25 French companies joined the Africa Accelerator to boost their business development on the continent.

Bpifrance also finances the purchase of equipment and services from French companies: this is the objective of Export Credit. In West and Central Africa, Arnaud Floris' teams reach out to industrial groups and public operators to map their needs and put them in touch with French partners. "All this is possible thanks to our network of 50 regional offices in France, which is unique for a French public player, and which enables us to bring environments closer together. We do this work in close collaboration with the Business France teams.

To further connect the new generation of African and French entrepreneurs, business leaders, investors and support structures, Bpifrance will organize the Inspire & Connect Africa event in Abidjan in June. "We want the ecosystems to get to know each other better, to have a better understanding of the tools and financial resources available to Team France," explains Arnaud Floris. To strengthen this cohesion between France and the African continent, two Bpifrance offices will soon open in Dakar and Casablanca. "By the end of 2021, four out of nine offices abroad will be in Africa. This shows the growing importance of our operations on the continent," concludes Arnaud Floris.