The Secretary General of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) says the organization is working to provide better access to finance for African businesses.
John W.H Denton AO, the Secretary General of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) recently visited Nigeria. During the visit, he spoke the organization’s efforts to support African business.
The International Chamber of Commerce is the largest, most representative business organization in the world. It comprises over 45 million members in over 100 countries in every sector of private enterprise.
When asked what the ICC can do to support the aspirations of African businesspeople, specifically younger people, according to reporting by Business Day, Denton replied, “There are a couple of things we are going to do. Firstly, one of the big issues for SMEs is access to trade finance; it is particularly hard in Africa because the cost and availability are low. So, we are working practically to create new FinTech tools that support access to trade finance by relying on the ability to access electronic invoicing. We are piloting one at the moment in Ecuador, and that was successful. Now we intend to pilot the market test in Mexico, and once we have proof-pointed all that, it will be very applicable to the African situation. We intend to pull that together to create a marketplace that financiers will bid to get access to, and that will [in turn] lower the cost to make it more available.”
Denton went on to speak of a tool the ICC is building called Trade Flow Capital, “Trade Flow Capital [is] for instances where a deal is made with commodities. Because of the time between putting commodities on a vessel and getting to the destination, issues around when the contract passes over, and when a party should get paid, there is an enormous delay. We worked out a way to expedite that by taking on the execution risk for SMEs for delivering the commodity, and we make certain that the money is available at the point rather than at the end. We have not done that with SMEs but we have proved that in other markets, so we are looking at that, at the moment.”
In his final comments on funding and finance, Denton spoke of the ICC’s Merchants of Peace Fund, that the organization plans to fund with EUR 500 million. The Fund will be used to invest in projects alongside other stakeholders. The overall goal of the Fund is to maintain functional market economies through access to technology.
Denton also spoke of the ICC’s arbitration efforts within Africa. There has been considerable growth in arbitration practices across Africa with the ICC Nigeria chapter the fastest-growing on the continent. “We will put in more resources,” said Denton. “Our strategic plan around arbitration in Africa builds on the success of ICC Nigeria and the courts of arbitration. We have been bringing more and more African practitioners into the court itself. So 1 in 4 court members are actually of African origin. We have the same thing on the ICC executive board, and there are more Africans on that board, as well. Also, we ran our first court session ever from Africa from Nigeria on May 31st. So the prominence of the Nigerian practice and the ICC, and the confidence that has been built by the combination of the two, are part of the strategic opportunities we are building for the future,” he said.
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