Dear Members, Partners, and Friends,
As 2021 draws to an end, let me take this opportunity to thank you for your continued engagement and supports. 2021 has undoubtedly been another challenging year for all of us, including the MSMEs which we are trying to serve. We are proud that so many of our members reported, in our surveys and check-in calls, that the services we launched to help you weather the pandemic have been very 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 230 banks, non-bank financial institutions, fintech, development banks, and more.
Today’s unprecedented circumstances haven’t stopped more institutions from exploring membership opportunities and we have seen an increase in membership of 12% over the last year.
Let me share a few highlights from 2021:
- As part of our COVID-19 mitigation program, we hosted 7 virtual roundtables on COVID-19 to provide you with opportunities to share and learn from each other's experiences particularly on how you handle the impacts on your institutions and how you support your SME clients during the crisis.
- Our monthly 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, sustainable finance, payments innovation, data analytics, supply chain finance, and blockchain.
- Our 2021 Global SME Finance Forum, held virtually on 18-21 October, was another great success. More than 1,900 participants from more than 400+ institutions and 120 countries convened online to listen to 80 high-level speakers, and to network extensively. I would again like to thank our sponsors – GB-TAP, RootAnt, and vcita, whose supports were critical for the success of the event.
- We also organized a virtual regional event in partnership with member Kafalah, the 5th International MENA Guarantee Conference. This event gathered 600 participants from 100 institutions and 68 counties within and outside the MENA region.
- We interviewed six additional global changemakers in our Leader Dialogue Series this year and conducted six more fireside chats for the Global SME Finance Forum, focusing on critical MSMEs issues.
- Through our Member Spotlight Series, we featured 10 of our members showcasing their innovative work and achievements.
- Since the opening of the SME Finance Virtual Marketplace in January 2021, we organized five “live” sessions where we featured fintechs and investors presenting their products and services, helping members and beyond to connect and explore partnership opportunities.
- Our three communities of practice on Women Finance, Agri Finance, and Risk Management met on a regular basis throughout the year.
I would like to thank our G20 co-chairs of the Global Partnership for Financial Inclusion Magda Bianco from Banca d’Italia and Anna Zelentsova of Russia’s Ministry of Finance for their support for SME financing as a priority topic in the G20 agenda. I would also like to thank other GPFI members the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation (BMZ), and the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MINBUZA) for their continuous support for the G20’s SME Finance agenda over the past decade.
I’d like to thank our Ambassadors, Khalil Nasr, Lesly Goh, and Sanjeev Goel for their tireless efforts in representing and promoting the SME Finance Forum.
Finally, I would like to express my special thanks to the SME Finance Forum’s Advisory Board -Isaac Awuondo, Magda Bianco, Anna Zelentsova, Paulo de Bolle, Thomas J. DeLuca, John Gachora, Martin Holtmann, and Jay Singer as well as departing members Linnea Kreibohm and Dawei Liu whose wise counsel and guidance have been invaluable and greatly appreciated.
With the increase of COVID-19 vaccination rates, 2022 hopefully will continue economic recovery. We will strive to build on our strengths in virtual knowledge sharing and networking. We also plan to introduce new ‘hybrid’ initiatives and ideas, including a Global SME Finance Forum that can see at least some of us meeting together in person again!
From me and the entire SME Finance Forum team, we wish you all the best in this holiday season. We look forward to continuing our partnership and collaboration with all of you in 2022.
CEO, SME Finance Forum
Chief Operations Officer, IFC