Monday 30th May 2016
Earlier this month I spoke at the Annual DFI/IFI Working Group meeting on SME finance, which gathers, as its name suggests, the main Development Finance Institutions that support banks to offer services to SMEs in emerging markets. Hosted by the SME Finance Forum, it is always an interesting meeting because of its fresh content, and the spirit of engagement with which institutions — sometimes direct competitors — openly share solutions to the particular challenges of financing and supporting SMEs, including those that are not traditionally on banks’ radars like women-owned, very small or rural businesses.
Concluding remarks by Sharmila Hardi, Head of SME Lending at IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, particularly resonated. She spoke about the promise of new technology for lowering transaction costs, which was also the focus of my own remarks on how GBA banks are using digital platforms to impact women SME owners. She also addressed the need to coordinate across DFIs and IFIs in order to offer concessional funding that “crowds in” rather than “crowds out” private capital. She suggested simplifying reporting requirements to the DFIs from client banks to one scorecard, raising the need to work on common definitions and KPIs and bring together resources to encourage banks to report sex-disaggregated data and thereby build the business case.
By the end of the meeting it was abundantly clear that given the limited technical assistance capacity in the sector to support banks in targeting the Women’s Market, it is essential that DFIs harmonize their efforts and collaborate to create a market to do so. If a large number of commercial banks can cooperate and share information about targeting the Women’s Market, as we do in the GBA, surely those institutions that are funded by taxpayers to develop markets can do likewise. The thirst for know-how is there, judging by the number of banks applying to participate in our first-ever training, the GBA All-Stars Academy, taking place in The Hague June 13 – 16. A taster of the content was shared earlier this month through a webinar co-hosted with the SME Finance Forum — the first in a series we intend to co-host on a yearly basis. Indeed, the demand is so great that we will be rolling out the All-Stars Academy in three regions — Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa and Asia — over the next 18 months.
This month I am also announcing that the 2016 GBA Summit will now be held in Washington, DC, instead of in Nairobi, and will be hosted by the IFC, a member of the World Bank Group. The dates are the same: October 18 – 20. Please mark your calendars and note the change of location!
Inez Murray, Chief Executive Officer
Global Banking Alliance for Women