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Celestin Tawamba Criticizes EU Investments, Seeks More Accessible Financing for SMEs

Celestin Tawamba Criticizes EU Investments, Seeks More Accessible Financing for SMEs

Paru le mercredi, 21 février 2024 17:57

Célestin Tawamba, outgoing president of Cameroon's employers' association Gicam, expressed dissatisfaction with the European Union's (EU) investments in the country, urging a shift towards more accessible financing for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Speaking at the EU-organized Business Week event in Yaoundé, Tawamba, the sole candidate for Groupement des entreprises du Cameroun (Gicam)'s presidency, called for "real financing" tailored to the needs of SMEs. He criticized the current investment model, stating: "We need real financing, not just investments. When you provide funding, it needs to be tailored to the specific needs of the recipient. However, we must be frank with you and say that many of the investments you make are not aligned with our actual requirements."

Tawamba emphasized the high costs associated with accessing funds, highlighting the gap between promised figures and the actual needs of smaller businesses. He argued that despite the EU's support for banks, they remain inaccessible due to extreme requirements. “The cost of accessing these services is often prohibitive. People hear about these huge sums of money, hundreds of billions, but they only need a few million. They don't have access to that kind of money.[...] I hear you people say, 'We support the banks, we give them guarantees.' But the banks don't make it easy for people to access these funds. The conditions are just too prohibitive,” he said. 

Comparing Cameroon to Côte d'Ivoire, Tawamba urged a significant increase in EU investment, asserting: "You give, but the conditions are inaccessible, so in the end, you don't give."

EU Ambassador Luc Chataignier, responding to Tawamba's remarks and accompanying applause, defended the EU's approach and financing instruments while acknowledging concerns. He emphasized the importance of collaboration and dialogue, stating: "This event is about co-constructing, not pointing fingers."

Chataignier recognized the challenges faced by SMEs and the role of risk aversion in the banking sector. He outlined existing EU initiatives that address these issues and expressed commitment to further improvements.

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