Building Partnerships through Matchmaking
It was my distinct pleasure to host the first Virtual Marketplace session of the SME Finance Forum on April 21, 2021, where representatives from eight leading development finance institutions (DFIs), namely Afrexim Bank, UK Development Bank (CDC), US Development Finance Corporation (DFC), FinDev Canada, Dutch Development Bank (FMO), Islamic Corporation for Development (ICD), International Finance Corporation (IFC), and French Development Bank (Proparco), presented their SME-supporting programs especially their lending products to an audience of more than 100 participants from 70 financial institutions and fintech companies.
With mandates to support private sector development especially MSMEs in developing and emerging countries, the eight DFIs -with a total asset of nearly $90 billion, offer a wide range of support programs to intermediary financial institutions and fintechs. Those DFIs provide both financing (equity, debt, guarantee facility), and advisory services targeting different priority sectors including supply chain, agribusiness, manufacturing, climate, technologies, and gender to name a few.
An important mission of the SME Finance Forum is not only to promote knowledge and good practices in SME finance among key stakeholders, but also to provide platforms for partnership building and collaboration between member institutions, particularly financial institutions, fintech and the DFIs. The membership network of the SME Finance Forum currently comprises more than 220 banks, microfinance institutions, insurance companies, development finance institutions, technology companies, data analytics providers, fintech companies, and e-commerce platforms, which are the key actors representing an important ecosystem that serves MSMEs around the world.
Marketplaces have been an important feature of the SME Finance Forum pretty much since the launch of our global membership network in 2016. Every year, at our global annual flagship event, members who attend the conference are invited to join the matchmaking event where they are paired to have an introductory meeting based on their common interests. At each year’s annual Global SME Finance Forum event, hundreds of meetings have been organized and facilitated, resulting in many new partnerships formed, and millions of dollars in new investments by DFIs. The Virtual Marketplace platform provides all stakeholders more opportunities with greater flexibilities to develop partnerships and to seek investment prospects.
Those connections and partnerships become increasingly important and vital during this time of COVID-19 induced crisis, when the life-altering pandemic has devastated the global economy, millions of firms are closed down, hundreds of millions of jobs have been lost, and more than three million lives already have been lost.
No single institution is strong or capable enough to rebuild economies post pandemic, given the unprecedented scale of its destruction. It’s only through collaboration and partnership that we can go through and re-emerge from this crisis faster.
I am hopeful that the work of the SME Finance Forum, especially the virtual marketplace, will contribute meaningfully to promoting partnerships that foster growth and development of the MSMEs throughout the world. With this note, I would like to invite all financial institutions, technology companies, development finance institutions who are looking for investment and partnership opportunities, to take advantage of the SME Finance Virtual Marketplace platform which is currently open to public at https://smeff-marketplace.globallinker.com/