On Wednesday, Mrs. Chrysoula Zacharopoulou, who is the French Minister of State for Development, Francophonie and International Partnerships to Nigeria visited the Group Managing Director, Access Holdings, Dr. Herbert Wigwe. He revealed that Access Bank’s French Desk strategic platform “would serve as a vital link between Business France, PROPACO, Agence Française de Développement (AFD), and other multilateral organizations.”
Wigwe added: “The Business Desk will provide tailored support and guidance to French businesses operating in Nigeria, as well as Nigerian businesses seeking to expand their presence in France.”
“With the creation of our French Desk, we are taking another significant step towards strengthening business ties between Nigeria and France.
“Your attendance speaks volumes about your unwavering commitment, optimism, and belief in the potential of Nigeria as a thriving market and your determination to contribute to its growth.
“We recognise the immense potential that lies within the Franco-Nigerian business relationship. By harnessing the strengths of both nations, we can unlock new opportunities, drive sustainable growth, and create shared prosperity. The Access Bank French Desk will play a pivotal role in facilitating trade and investment between our nations.
“It will serve as a knowledge hub, providing valuable insights, market intelligence, and networking opportunities for businesses from both countries. By leveraging our extensive network and expertise, we aim to create an enabling environment for French companies to thrive in Nigeria, while also assisting Nigerian businesses in navigating the intricacies of the French market.”
The bank chief added: “These partnerships will enable us tap into their extensive networks, leverage their expertise in various sectors and access funding opportunities that will support the growth and expansion of businesses operating in Nigeria and France.
“I am convinced that with initiatives like the Access Bank French Desk, we can forge a prosperous future, driven by collaboration, innovation, and mutual respect. Let us embrace this exciting opportunity to forge stronger ties, create shared value, and build a better future for our nations.”
Zacharopoulou also respomded: “With the launch of Business Desk, it will be easier for both countries to have more private sector engagement and allow big firms in France to invest in Nigeria. It is important we work together amid challenges and provide solutions required to create jobs for the youths,” she added.
Also, the Managing Director, Access Bank Plc, Mr. Roosevelt Ogbonna, said, “Access Bank has built a Chinese desk, working with the Chinese. We built on the back of that a German desk, working with DEG and the German government.
“We built a Dutch desk and I think is with a lot of excitement that we talk about Access Bank/French desk. The difference in the French desk and a lot of this other desks that I’ve referenced is that this is the first time that we’re building a desk coming on the back of our presence in the country.”
Ogbonna added: “We might not be the greatest business partners, but is about $4 billion of trade that flows between France and Nigeria. France is a significant economy in the Eurozone, while Nigeria, the largest economy within the African continent, and I think in their lies the natural ability for us to work together to make Africa and the world a better place.
“And I think what Access Bank brings to the table is that local knowledge, not just in Nigeria, but across the 17 or 18 markets we operate in to further the conversation that France is hoping to have with the continent.
“The French Desk will afford us the opportunity to connect French and African businesses within Nigeria and across all our markets. It will ensure that we’re able to mobilize capital to support small businesses who are looking for alternative opportunities outside of what is traditional.”