As with the case of an Abidjan-based regional bourse (The Bourse Regionale des Valeurs Mobilieres), small investors can help drive an unprecedented listings boom. The exchange is notable for its strong campaign to introducing ordinary people, such as teachers, clerks, and government workers, to investing in capital markets.
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On Abidjan’s Avenue Joseph Anoma, amid the bustle of shoeshine men, fruit sellers displaying mangoes and bananas in the shade of a tree, and mobile-phone vendors hustling for custom, a stock exchange is showing new life.
The Bourse Regionale des Valeurs Mobilieres, or BRVM — a regional exchange covering seven Francophone countries and Guinea Bissau — occupies a modest office block in the Ivory Coast’s commercial capital, dwarfed by the skyscraper of its next-door neighbor, the African Development Bank. But just six years ago, the BRVM was in limbo, having temporarily relocated to the Malian capital, Bamako, after soldiers armed with AK-47 assault rifles invaded its headquarters amid post-election chaos in the West African nation.
Since its return to Abidjan, the BRVM has grown from one to four floors, including a new trading room and a giant street-facing screen scrolling stock prices. It is in the midst of an unprecedented listings boom, with six successful offerings since late 2014, and another 16 in the works, according to Chief Executive Officer Edoh Kossi Amenounve. And it is introducing ordinary people — teachers, clerks and government workers — to investing in capital markets.
When Coris Bank International SA, Burkina Faso’s biggest lender, started a public offering last year, it planned to keep the sale open for two weeks. It had to close the book after five hours as bids swelled to three times the target. In July, Societe Ivoirienne de Banque, a unit of Morocco’s Attijariwafa Bank, received 13,000 bids in one day totaling 55 billion CFA Francs ($91 million), twice what it looked for. In both cases, investors were mostly individuals and for half of them, it was the first time they had ever bought shares.