Hemant Baijal

Mr. Hemant Baijal is an international expert with multi-dimensional policy advocacy and practitioner experience in policy formulation and program implementation related to payments systems & remittances, SME Finance, digital financial inclusion, digital ID and platforms, and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  He is currently an independent consultant working on various digital financial services and digital economy projects with the World Bank Group, Alliance for Financial Inclusion and other leading international organizations. He also serves as an Adviser on Strategic Partnerships and Policy Advocacy for the think tank Leaders on Purpose. In this role he actively engages with purpose driven executives from global corporations and international development organizations to drive innovative leadership and partnership strategies that link the success of their organizations with commitments to solve societal challenges being tackled by the SDGs. Previously he was Vice President, Global Public Policy at Mastercard where he managed strategic relationships with key international organizations and governments. He was involved in all facets of digital financial services and sustainability leadership: coordination of executive representation in key global events; program management & strategy; policy development & advocacy; thought leadership; and contributions to expert panels and task forces on digital financial services, sustainability and financial inclusion. He also developed a number of innovative solutions aimed at improving the delivery of government services and solutions through commercial and public sector platforms. Prior to joining the Mastercard, he was a Senior Payment Systems Specialist at the World Bank where he provided technical expertise and advice to various governments and international bodies on payment systems policy and digital financial services infrastructure design. He contributed to a number of World Bank led initiatives related to government payments, retail payments and payment systems governance and oversight. Before joining the World Bank, he worked in prepaid, small business and commercial product development roles at Mastercard, Citi and JP Morgan. 

SME Finance Forum members have opportunities to influence policy outcomes under Saudi G20 Presidency

Oct 03, 2019
Arab woman and family-Shutterstock

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) account for 90% of all operational businesses, two thirds of employment worldwide, and half of world’s GDP. Despite their important role as the engine of growth, the enabling policy environment in many countries is not well suited to their growth and they very often lack access to financing to grow their businesses.

According to the G20, the global SME financing gap is significant. Over 200-245 million SMEs worldwide are in need of financing to invest, grow and create employment opportunities. 

With approximately half of these firms operating in the G20 countries, in 2015, the policymakers developed a joint action plan outlining key policy measures necessary to close the financing gap. In 2016, the focus broadened to promote financial inclusion among SMEs with the release of High Level Principles. Incremental efforts were made in the subsequent period (2017-19) to advance the SME policy agenda. Under Saudi Arabia’s presidency of G20 next year, it is expected that SME finance and financial inclusion needs of women and youth will once again be a top priority and policy efforts to address the financing gap will intensify.

Most financial institutions and fintechs operating in the SME segment are unaware of the G20 policy agenda, especially on how it affects them or what additional aspects could be considered as part of the policy reforms.  

The SME Finance Forum was established in 2012 by the G20 Global Partnership for Financial Inclusion (GPFI) explicitly for this purpose: to act as the “knowledge” link between the G20 policymakers and the private sector. For the Forum’s members, it serve as the knowledge center for data, research and best practices for promoting SME finance and a market place for SME tech innovations. For policymakers, it provides valuable data points and evidence to formulate the policies that have a deeper impact.

The Forum is uniquely placed in acting as the link between policymakers and service providers. Many members still face policy challenges in the countries they operate in but do not have access to policymakers to demonstrate innovations or voice concerns. Various platforms – events, webinars, research and policy outreach – can be used by members in a collective way to express concerns or updates related to the policy environment.

Starting with the SME Finance Forum’s annual flagship event, the Global SME Finance Forum 2019, taking place in Amsterdam on October 7-9, the next 12 months will be critical. With SME finance once again a top priority for G20 policymakers in 2020, members should find every opportunity to promote their priorities using the knowledge platforms of the SME Finance Forum.   

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