The objective of the Forum was to highlight opportunities in the leasing sector in Sierra Leone, and participants shared practical experiences on how the leasing industry has impacted positively their businesses and the business environment generally in their various countries. The leasing industry was recognized as a critical sector that will contribute to the transformation of Sierra Leone’s financial sector, and the efforts of the IFC in promoting business and investment in the country were considered to be key in driving such a transformation forward.Sebastian Molineus, Director for the World Bank Group’s Finance and Markets Global Practice, believed leasing would allow micro enterprises and entrepreneurs who do not meet the strict requirements for a traditional bank loan to access financing. “In a country like Sierra Leone where micro, small, and medium businesses make up the bulk of the businesses in the economy, leasing can provide a real opportunity for private sector growth, which in turn will help create jobs and improve people’s lives,” he said. The Forum was an initiative of the World Bank Group’s Africa Leasing Facility program. Since its launch in 2008, the program has contributed to the drafting of 24 leasing laws, trained 20,000 MSMEs on leasing, and mobilized $57 million in investment capital in the countries where it operates. The second phase of the program, launched in 2013, focuses almost exclusively on fragile and conflict-affected states, where the need for access to finance is the largest and where leasing can have the greatest impact.Meanwhile, and forming the highpoint of the meeting, the IFC and SLIEPA signed a Cooperation Agreement to promote leasing as an alternative financing solution for micro, small, and medium enterprises in the country. Access to finance remains one of the major challenges facing smaller businesses that dominate Sierra Leone. To address these constraints, the IFC – as part of the Agreement – will provide expert advice and support to SLIEPA to develop and establish a viable leasing industry in the country.Oluniyi Robbin-Coker, Board Chairman of SLIEPA, said his organization looked forward to working with the IFC to improve the existing legal and regulatory frameworks and facilitate the development of the leasing sector in Sierra Leone. IFC Resident Representative, Frank Ajilore, assured of his institution’s continued commitment to promoting private sector growth in the country.
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