British International Investment and Citi launch $100 million risk-sharing facility

British International Investment and Citi has launched $100 million risk-sharing facility to support trade finance in frontier and emerging African economies.
According to a Press release from the British High Commission, Yaounde,the facility targets underserved African markets such as Benin, Cameroon, Tanzania and Uganda.
The funding helps to accelerate the flow of key agricultural commodities, and use of machinery and solutions that strengthen food security in vulnerable economies.
This initiative seeks to address the lack of liquidity among Africa’s commercial banks.

British International Investment (BII), the UK’s development finance institution and impact investor, on April 24, announced the signing of a $100 million risk-sharing facility with Citi to support the trade finance needs of SMEs and corporates in frontier and emerging African economies. The initiative was announced during a signing ceremony in Washington at the World Bank’s Spring Meetings and is expected to provide a boost to businesses with high-potential but limited by a lack of finance.

The investment seeks to address the critical lack of foreign currency in the region by providing trade finance liquidity to Citi’s extensive network of commercial banks, enabling financial institutions to increasingly support African businesses with imports of key commodities such as wheat, fertiliser, rice and sugar.

The BII and Citi facility will help local businesses in underserved markets to finance the import of economically productive goods, transport, essential equipment and machinery supporting the emergence of manufacturing industries in frontier and emerging economies, including Benin, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

The funding comes as local businesses struggle to secure key imports due to challenges precipitated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war, which have led to high inflation, rising interest rates and an increase in commodity prices. As a result, the trade finance gap in Africa has increased by approximately a third since the onset of the pandemic, climbing from $81 billion in 2019 to $120 billion in 2023. According to UK’s Minister for Development and Africa Andrew Mitchell, “This investment underlines BII’s commitment to supporting fragile economies across Africa in accessing vital goods to support food production, including fertiliser and agricultural machinery. By investing in countries where support is most needed, BII continues to take a lead in the fight against food insecurity.”

Nick O’Donohoe, CEO, British International Investment for his part said: “Our investment with Citi deepens BII’s footprint across the continent and supports local businesses struggling to maintain and expand operations due to a lack of capital. The facility is testament to our commitment to tackle complex issues such as food security in Africa by extending liquidity solutions to strategic sectors. This empowers local businesses to strengthen supply chains and accelerate the flow of essential trade.”

BII has supported businesses in Africa since 1948 and Citi opened its first office in the continent in 1920. The new facility leverages their combined expertise and will potentially deepen Citi’s relationships with over 200 local banks who in turn can empower ambitious companies facing severe funding constraints in harder-to-reach markets.