-says World Bank Director
October 28, 2016 By Ibrahim Tarawallie
Director, Finance and Markets Global Practice at the World Bank Group yesterday stated that leasing could be a critical enabler that would help to spur development in Sierra Leone.
Sebastian A. Molineus was speaking yesterday at the Bintumani Hotel in Freetown during a finance leasing investment forum organised by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the Sierra Leone Investment and Export Promotion Agency (SLIEPA) to explore investment opportunities in the country.
The forum was part of development of leasing as a viable alternative financing solution for micro, small, and medium enterprises, since access to finance in the country is one of major constraints hindering the growth of Small and Medium Enterprises.
Molineus stated that leasing was an alternative and innovative mode of financing with particular attention to micro, small and medium enterprises, which are businesses that make up the bulk of the economy in the country.
“We are here today to explore opportunities of developing a leasing sector in Sierra Leone. Leasing focuses on the ability of the lessee to generate cash from business operations in order to service the payment,” he said and added that it also provides access to finance for smaller businesses that were previously excluded from the formal financial system.
According to him, access to finance had been a major constraint for growth of SMEs in Sub-Saharan Africa, and that it was also the case in Sierra Leone, where private sector is link to the growth of SMEs.
He highlighted the creation of jobs and increasing economic growth as critical factors in fighting poverty but stressed that both were dependent on the private sector.
He revealed that in most countries, 90 percent of jobs were created by the private sector and so in order for the sector to provide such jobs, it was critical to have an open, inclusive, stable and efficient financial sector.
Also, IFC Resident Representative, Frank Ajilore, stated that their programmes focus a lot on financial sector development, adding that they have developed a leasing handbook which talks about leasing opportunities in the country as well as the legislative framework.
He stated their strategy was now being directed by the President’s Recovery Priorities, which is being led by the presidential taskforce through the delivery team.
He said the IFC, under the strategy, would focus their attention on economic diversification with the aim of reducing reliance on the extractive industry and increasing it where they foresee prosperity advantage for Sierra Leone.
He opined that leasing must be identified as sustainable and added that their main focus going forward would be agribusiness.
Deputy Governor of the Bank of Sierra Leone, Dr. Ibrahim Stevens, said leasing finance was a key component of some of the ideas discussed in a document about improving access to affordable finance in the country.
He said they consider financial sector development as a major strategic objective of the Bank, adding that he has a keen interest in developing solid financial sector development.
He spoke about the Bank’s move to embark on a financial literacy campaign and revealed that they were in the process of concluding the collateral registry.
The highpoint of the forum witnessed the signing of a cooperation agreement between IFC and SLIEPA in a bid to work collaboratively in developing Sierra Leone’s leasing sector.