Dear Members, Partners, and Friends,
Working together during 2022 has been a pleasure, and we're proud to have you all with us.
2022 was a turbulent year in global markets, and SMEs all over the world have been dealing with soaring inflation, disrupted supply chains and volatile foreign currency markets. And yet, we have been inspired by how our members have risen to the challenge, with dozens of new partnerships, new technologies, and new business models, all helping to reduce the cost and increase the availability of SME finance. Members have been building next-generation supply chain finance platforms, scaling green finance for SMEs, using big data and AI to provide working capital to the unbanked, rolling out collateral-free lending, and so much more. In all of this work, we are excited to be your partner for another year.
In 2023, we have a packed program planned, with physical meetings, immersion programs, and two new communities of practice alongside our awards program, virtual events, and peer networking. All of this is made possible by our dues-paying members. It is thanks to our members that we can keep building this global network and keep striving to close the SME finance gap and deliver for entrepreneurs in the 190+ countries where our members operate.
Let me share some highlights from 2022:
During the 2022 Global SME Finance Forum, we focused on “Harnessing Digitalization for Sustainable and Inclusive SME Finance." It was an honor to host 350 senior executives from 180+ banks, development finance institutions, fintech companies, and regulatory agencies from 60+ countries on September 19 to 21st in Phnom Penh Cambodia. In addition, we hosted an invitation-only live stream of the event, 280+ SME finance professionals attended virtually from around the world.
This year’s conference was one of the most successful flagship events to date. Our heartfelt thanks and appreciation to the National Bank of Cambodia, as a co-host of the event, for their exceptional support and hospitality.
For the fifth year, the Global SME Finance Awards recognized the achievements of financial institutions and fintech companies in delivering outstanding SME products and services. Congratulations to the winners and to all the Honorable Mentions and a special shout-out to entrants operating in IDA and FCS contexts!
We held 28 virtual knowledge-sharing events, attended by more than 3,100 participants engaging on key topics such as digital banking, sustainable finance, payments innovation, data analytics, and supply chain finance, SME lending and social impacts, gender data gaps, among others.
Among those events, we delivered 5 open webinars, 10 marketplaces live sessions (pitching opportunity), and 9 virtual communities of practice: Risk Management, Women’s Entrepreneurship Finance, and AgriFinance).
In May, we co-hosted a virtual regional event with member QDB, on Credit Guarantees: A Path to Sustainable SME Recovery. The 6th International MENA Guarantee Conference. This event gathered 590 participants from 180 institutions and 62 counties within and outside the MENA region.
We held a virtual event on Going Beyond Finance to Help SMEs Digitalize and Recover from Covid, resulting in a new G20 database of good practices recognized by G20 leadership. The database already displays +100 case studies where you can submit your case or explore products and services that impact MSMEs beyond credit.
We co-organized two APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) virtual workshops on leveraging private sector investment to promote MSME and on improving the infrastructure for supply chain financing during which some members had the opportunity to present.
We also co-sponsored the GPFI Workshop on “New Approaches to Closing Finance & Data Gaps for Women-Led Businesses” in July.
We continue providing discounts for members wanting to attend major meetings run by our partners, including Lendit, Money2020, Finovate and Fintech Nexus among others.
Finally, I would like to express my special thanks to the 16 members of the Forum’s Governing Council and to our Ambassadors, Khalil Nasr, Lesly Goh, Alberto Naval Potro and Sanjeev Goel, for their tireless efforts in representing and promoting the SME Finance Forum.
From 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 in 2023.
CEO, SME Finance Forum
Chief Operations Officer, IFC