The study aims to examine the importance of access to finance in firm innovation by using firm-level data from the World Bank enterprise survey (WBES) on selected African countries.
This study utilises firm-level data from the WBES database and computes aggregate innovation index by using multiple correspondent analysis. The authors then apply instrumental variable models (to control for possible endogeneity between innovation and finance) to assess the link between finance and innovation.
The research finds that finance in the form of overdraft overwhelmingly drives innovation in all selected countries – Cameroon, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria and South Africa. Trade credit enhances innovation among firms in Nigeria, South Africa and Cameroon, while asset finance drives innovation amongst firms in Cameroon, Nigeria and South Africa.
Policy incentives such as tax breaks could be put in place for financial intermediaries that have shown proof of extending loans to financially constraint firms to enable them to innovate. Furthermore, different financial institutions such as microfinance institutions can be supported to increase credit to enterprises. Partnerships with organisations willing to fund firms and support start-ups should be encouraged. One of such support mechanisms could be specialised schemes such as a credit guarantee scheme to encourage and secure lending to enterprises to promote innovation.
This paper provides empirical insights into how finance enhances innovation in African enterprises. It also shows how different finance structures (overdraft, asset finance and trade credit) affect firm innovation in different African countries.
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