SENEGAL– French financial services leader Societe Generale group has confirmed the solid growth of its African operations, in line with its “Transform to Grow” strategic plan. 

The Bank has also announced several initiatives in partnership with international, regional and local clients and institutions in order to meet sustainable development needs in Africa, as part of the launch of its “Grow with Africa” programme.

The Group is targeting a compound annual revenue growth rate of 8% and profitability of over 15% by 2020 for its African operations, as announced in its strategic plan.

“Our long-standing presence in Africa makes Societe Generale an essential, well-placed player on the continent to serve as a unifying force around the challenge of responsibility and sustainably contributing to African growth. This ambition is a key part of our strategic plan. 

“This is why we are launching “Grow with Africa”, an initiative that involves all stakeholders seeking to provide solutions to the specific environment in which sustainable development in Africa is expanding, and who are convinced that the futures of Europe and Africa are more closely linked than ever,” says Frédéric Oudéa, Chief Executive Officer of Societe Generale.

With operations in 19 African countries, the company’s Africa, Mediterranean Basin & Overseas Region business unit generated €1.52 billion in revenue in 2017, an increase of 11%. 

This trend continued in the first nine months of 2018, as the bank continued to roll out its strategy, building on its strengths to capture local growth, the bank says.

Business customers account for more than 60% of NBI and outstanding loans. 

“We believe that development in Africa is one of the collective challenges to which Societe Generale can contribute, and so the Bank made the decision to put its expertise and drive for innovation towards serving positive change on the continent.”

Societe Generale

The bank is supporting this increasingly sophisticated client base, in particular via regional hubs of expertise that have proven their capability in more mature markets, such as structured finance or currency hedging solutions. 

It has also decided to increase its outstanding loans to African SMEs by 60% over the next five years, an increase of €4 billion.

The company is looking to consolidate its leadership positions in several countries, especially in Côte d’Ivoire, Cameroon, Senegal and Guinea by drawing on the benefits of its high-end positioning, while remaining focused on improving customer satisfaction. 

The bank is also forging ahead with its innovation strategy with the roll-out of YUP, an e-wallet solution that was launched in August 2017 and currently has over 300,000 e-wallets opened and almost 4,500 agents. 

It reveals that YUP adds around 1,500 new customers per day and is aiming for one million customers and 8,000 agents by 2020.

New structure, new ambitions

Societe Generale says that in order to deliver on this roadmap, it is adapting its structure in Africa, with four regional divisions for Africa already set up in Abidjan, Douala, Algiers and Casablanca.

In addition an organisation and IT system division in Casablanca has been set up to enable the pooling of expertise, standardise processes and improve efficiency.

The bank is also looking to broaden its innovation initiatives, through its Innovation Labs in Dakar, Tunis and Casablanca, where new banking and non-banking solutions are being developed with start-ups and customers.

The group is also strengthening its teams in Africa, with a strong renewal in the managerial structure, where African staff members well connected to local economies are being promoted to top management positions. Several initiatives on training, equality – such as the partnership with “Women in Africa” – and collective intelligence are also playing a key role in the Group’s inclusive growth strategy, have also been strengthened.

Sustainable business in Africa

“We believe that development in Africa is one of the collective challenges to which Societe Generale can contribute, and so the Bank made the decision to put its expertise and drive for innovation towards serving positive change on the continent,” says the bank.

Societe Generale has identified four areas of development, with the launch of the “Grow with Africa” programme, including multi-dimensional support for African SMEs, where it will create “SME Centres” in each of its subsidiaries. 

It will also substantially increase the amount of loans granted to African SMEs.

The bank will strengthen its financing of infrastructure projects in Africa, especially in energy, transport, water and waste management, and sustainable cities. 

It plans to double its African workforce dedicated to structured finance by 2019 and increase its financial commitments related to structured finance in Africa by 20% by 2022. 

Further, it will improve its support of agricultural industries, by working alongside all of the sector’s stakeholders, including farmers, cooperatives and SMEs by providing access to a range of banking and non-banking services (healthcare, education, advisory) to one million farmers over the next five years, through its YUP platform.

The bank will also support energy inclusion, promote renewable energy sources in areas that are not connected to the electricity network and support connections for households located close to existing networks.

Lastly, it will improve financial inclusion among local populations by pursuing the roll out of YUP, which offers simple, accessible, bank-like products to a broad population, the majority of whom do not currently have access to banking services. 

The group will also double its outstanding loans to micro-finance organisations by 2022.

Societe Generale operates in several African countries including Algeria, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Madagascar, Morocco, Mauritania, Mozambique, Senegal, South Africa, Togo and Tunisia.

The group’s 11,500 staff members on the continent serve 4.1 million customers, including 150,000 businesses.