Happy Holidays! A Message from our CEO to SME Finance Forum Members
Dec 17, 2020
As 2020 draws to an end, let me take this opportunity to thank you and your colleagues for your continued support during these difficult times. 2020 has been a challenging year for all of us and while we have seen the COVID-19 pandemic throw the world into uncertainty, we are proud that so many of you have found the new services we launched to help you weather the crisis useful.
Since our launch in November 2015, we’ve grown from a few dozen committed early adopters into a global network that includes more than 200 banks, non-bank financial institutions, fintechs, development banks and more. The unprecedent circumstances haven’t stopped more institutions from exploring membership opportunities and we have seen an increase in membership of 21% over the last year.
A few highlights from 2020:
- Since March, we have hosted 24 virtual roundtables on Covid-19 mitigation efforts to provide you with opportunities to share and learn from each other's experiences on topics such as collections/grace periods, disruptions to supply chain, risk management, loan classification and credit information sharing, and women entrepreneurs support to name a few. There were more than 2,700 senior executives from 240 different institutions who attended these roundtables!
- As part of our COVID-19 mitigation program, we also launched and reported to you on a monthly survey to take your pulses on how your institutions and your SME clients have been faring.
- Our first virtual Global SME Finance Forum held end of October was our most successful annual conference yet. More than 2600 participants from more than 1000+ institutions and 149 countries convened online to listen to 80 speakers, visit 30 exhibition booths and network extensively for three days. I would like to thank our sponsors for the Global SME Finance Forum 2020 – U GRO Capital, Experian, S&P Global, Vcita and HPD Lendscape. Without their support, we would not have been able to deliver such a successful conference.
- During our members’ annual meeting we launched two new initiatives. Our Fireside Chats are one-on-one interviews with CEOs and senior executives focusing on critical MSMEs issues. The SME Finance Virtual Marketplace promotes partnership with leading fintech, financial institutions, and investors.
- Our members-only webinars were attended by more than 364 unique institutions throughout the year and each month there were an average of 110 members engaging on key topics such as digital banking, payments innovation, data analytics, supply chain finance, and blockchain.
Member institution Wells Fargo hosted an immersion program in San Francisco on Innovation in Small Business Banking, together with SizeUp, Veem and Kountable while U GRO Capital and Experian offered virtual study visits during the Global SME Finance Forum 2020.
I would like to extend our sincere appreciation to our seed capital providers from the G20 and other countries, particularly Germany and the Netherlands, for their strong support and unwavering commitment to promoting access to finance for SMEs. Their generous support enables the SME Finance Forum to continue to offer a wide range of services for our members and to advance the global agenda for accelerating finance for SMEs.
With the hope brought by the new COVID-19 vaccines, 2021 hopes to be a recovery year. We will strive to make it as productive as possible, adapting to the ever-changing context and building on our strengths in virtual knowledge sharing and networking. We plan to introduce new initiatives and ideas to adapt to the “new normal”, in partnership with our members, donors and partners!
I’d like to thank our Ambassadors, Khalil Nasr, Lesly Goh, Sanjeev Gael, Dawei Liu and Michael Muthengi Makau (the latter transformed during this past year into our gatekeeper for new member Business Partners) for their efforts in promoting membership, and I’d like to wish Ambassador Zihu (Angel) An all the best in her transition to supporting her family’s business in Finland.
Finally, I would like to express my special thanks to the SME Finance Forum’s Advisory Board - Isaac Awuondo, Linnea Kreibohm, Natascha Beinker (who gave way to Linnea during the year), Paulo de Bolle, Thomas J. DeLuca, John Gachora, Michael Makau (who gave way to John Gachora during the year), Martin Holtmann, Dawei Liu, and Jay Singer. We greatly appreciate your wise counsel and your continued support.
From me and the entire SME Finance Forum team, we wish you all the best in this holiday season and thank you again for your support and engagement in 2020.
I look forward to engaging with you and your member institution in 2021.
SME Finance Forum