SOUTH AFRICA – NASIRA Fund, a COVID-19 emergency facility set by the EU and FMO’s NASIRA fund has provided a 7-year $35m guarantee to the South African Bank Sasfin.

FMO will support Sasfin by improving the reporting capabilities on the guaranteed portfolio and help in gaining risk management knowledge in collaboration with Hypoport’s investor reporting tool Prommise.

This move will support Sasfin’s lending to COVID-19 affected borrowers in South Africa and developing and originating new (digital) lending products, specifically targeting youth, women, and migrant borrowers.

“Support for SMEs is essential in lessening the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on people’s livelihood and their communities. South Africa was already suffering from high unemployment and power cuts, and now the corona lockdown has hit the economy even harder than many analysts were expecting,” Linda Broekhuizen, CEO of FMO said.

“Sasfin is a longstanding partner who did not hesitate to embark with us on this new journey that the NASIRA fund offers. This first signing under EU funding is a landmark from which hopefully a lot of South African entrepreneurs will benefit,’’ he added.

NASIRA is an innovative financial program that supports young, female, and migrant entrepreneurs in Sub-Saharan Africa and countries neighbouring Europe. 

As of April 2020, the scope is widened to also reach small COVID-19 affected entrepreneurs in the same regions.

South Africa remains a dual economy with one of the highest inequality rates in the world.

Still it has a large and vibrant private sector, which is now struggling with the consequences of COVID-19.

This is especially true for female, young and migrant entrepreneurs, who are often at a disadvantaged position when it comes to access to financial services to develop and grow their businesses.

Michael Sassoon, CEO of Sasfin, said: “We have always been committed to SMEs, and with NASIRA, are now in an even better position to step up support to so many SMEs who struggle to access finance. This facility is a major next step in expanding our digital business banking offering, becoming more diverse and inclusive as we launch to market in 2021.”

“We are proud to be the first bank in the world to receive the NASIRA guarantee under EU funding which speaks volumes about the work we are doing for SMEs in our country. NASIRA ensures that we can continue to transform the business banking experience of our clients,” Michael added.

In April, NASIRA received €25m from the European Fund for Sustainable Development to support small COVID-19 affected entrepreneurs in Africa and EU neighbourhood.

The Dutch government fund MASSIF also added €7.5m to NASIRA.

“Through our External Investment Plan, the EU is proud to provide the financial backing for the NASIRA guarantee. The agreement between FMO and Sasfin means NASIRA will now be extended to small business owners across South Africa and help them adapt to the Covid-19 pandemic. It will target female, young and migrant entrepreneurs. Our backing for NASIRA forms part of ‘Team Europe’, a joined-up response by the EU and its member states and financial institutions to the pandemic.” Marjeta Jager, Deputy Director-General in the Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development at the European Commission, commented.

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