BIO has launched its first African office in Abidjan which is now open for business
During a launch ceremony at Résidence de Belgique in Abidjan, last Thursday, October 14, the Belgian Investment Company for Developing Countries (BIO) celebrated the opening of its first African office in Abidjan.
The Liaison Office in Abidjan covers the entire region of the WAEMU as well as Ghana. It is strategically located in the first economy of the WAEMU. Ivory Coast boasts a unique vibrancy as the veritable business hub of the region and offers BIO the advantage of being close to several of Belgium’s partner countries, such as Benin, Burkina Faso, Mali, and Senegal.
BIO’s teams carry out prospection and identification of new investment opportunities there, with the support of the teams in Brussels for the execution. In the region, they are also in charge of the relations with the partners of the European Union, the Belgian embassy, and the Belgian Cooperation.
Launch party at Résidence de Belgique – attended by H.E. the Belgian ambassador in Ivory Coast & the head of the Investment Promotion and Private Sector Development Minister’s office
Maximilien d’Harcourt, head of the local office, explains "Being closer to this market will help us better understand the local ecosystem and conduct our prospection missions more effectively in order to identify investment opportunities in line with our development mandate."
BIO is convinced that the office in Abidjan will be a source of new investment opportunities in the field, in a context of sustainable growth for BIO. The office also allows BIO to be closer to its existing customers.
BIO’s Liaison Officers at Abidjan are at your service
Maximilien d'Harcourt, regional representative, started at BIO as an Investment Officer in 2016. During 3 years and a half, he gained experience in various sectors and regions, in particular in Latin America and Africa. In September 2019, Maximilien moved to Abidjan to take care of BIO’s new regional office. Before, Maximilien worked at EY as a Senior Consultant. Maximilien holds a Master 2 in Management from ESCP (Ecole Supérieure de Commerce de Paris).
Augustin Thibaut de Maisières, Investment Analyst, started at BIO in 2018 as a Junior Development & Sustainability Officer before joining the Investment team in 2019. In early 2020, Augustin joined the Abidjan Liaison Office as an Investment Analyst. Augustin has a Bachelor in Economics and Business Economics, and a Master in Sustainable Finance from Maastricht University.
In 2020, BIO has exceeded the EUR 1 billion threshold of managed assets (EUR 1,062 M)
The portfolio’s net commitments amount to EUR 816 million
These sums are allocated to 144 customers in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
The investments are allocated to BIO’s 3 activity regions as follows:
- Africa: 46.8%
- Asia: 25.8%
- Latin America: 23%
The investments in debt and equity are distributed as follows:
- Debt: 65.9%
- Equity: 34.1%
BIO has a strong presence in West Africa (WAEMU + Ghana) with more than EUR 125 million invested in the region. The distribution according to investment sector in West Africa is as follows:
- Financial Institutions and Private Equity Funds: 47.5%
- Infrastructure: 39.5%
- Small and Medium-sized Enterprises: 13%
BIO’s portfolio exposure in Ivory Coast amounts to EUR 31,649,515 or 5.38% (21/12/20)
BIO’s portfolio exposure in Senegal amounts to EUR 36,212,436 or 5.7% (21/12/20)
Latest investments in the region
Long-term perspectives for the Abidjan Office:
- boost BIO’s portfolio in the region, also including direct investments in SMEs and in fragile countries;
- build and maintain a competitive network of partners and prospects in the region;
- strengthen the team with local recruitment.
BIO’s mission is to support a strong private sector in developing and emerging countries, to enable them to gain access to growth and sustainable development within the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals.
This DFI, Development Finance Institution, was created in 2001 as a limited liability company under public law, with the Belgian federal state as its only shareholder. It operates under a management contract with the Belgian Ministry for Development Cooperation. The ultimate goal is to contribute to a strong private sector in developing countries.
BIO’s priority sectors are agroindustry, renewable energy, and financial services, with several intervention tools, such as long-term loans, investments in equity, and technical assistance (grants).
BIO’s approach can be either direct or indirect. Indirectly, by refinancing Financial Institutions (banks, micro- or meso-finance institutions) or by holding participations in Private Equity Funds. This is how we support financial inclusion and access to funding for small and medium-sized enterprises.
BIO’s investment tickets vary from EUR 1 million to EUR 20 million.
BIO is a member of the Association of bilateral European Development Finance Institutions (EDFI) that comprises the European DFIs, like for example FMO, Proparco, DEG, and BEI, with which BIO cooperates often by co-investing and aligning our practices with regard to ESG standards applicable to our investments.
BIO has just published a call for tender for the next 3 Development Effectiveness Evaluations (period 2022- 2024), including a detailed Terms of Reference for the next evaluation that will focus on “BIO’s contribution to SDG10 – Reduced inequality and inclusive businesses”.
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