New Delhi, September 15, 2023 – IFC Vice President for Industries, Mohamed Gouled, currently on a two-day official visit to India, has commended India's leadership at the G20 for its strong emphasis on the significance of digital public infrastructure (DPI) in achieving financial inclusion.
"This formal recognition that technology must be used for catalyzing the growth of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) can prove to be a watershed moment in creating transformative partnerships between the G20 countries and beyond," said Mr. Gouled.
The G20 leaders, on September 9, adopted the "G20 Framework for Systems of Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI)", a voluntary framework, as part of the Delhi Declaration. DPI includes digital networks that offer essential services such as identification, payments, and data exchange, aiming to bring underserved populations into the digital ecosystem.
IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, has been an implementing partner for G20 Global Partnership for Financial Inclusion (GPFI). Under the India Presidency and the current G20 GPFI Financial Inclusion Action Plan, IFC was responsible for delivering a report that aims to promote innovative access to digital financing. The report is set to be published next week.
Addressing the SME Finance Forum 2023 in Mumbai on Thursday, Mr. Gouled recalled his sojourn to India for higher studies in the 1980s, noting the economic transformation of the Indian economy since then. He particularly highlighted the transformative impact of digital technology in many countries, such as India's Aadhaar, Türkiye's FAST system, and Singapore's MyInfo, collectively referred to as Digital Stack.
Mr. Gouled highlighted how SMEs have helped propel economic growth and innovation, particularly in developing nations. He said DPIs can serve as a catalyst for SME financing, fortify financial markets, and promote inclusion.
SMEs are engines of growth, but the lack of financing is a key challenge in many developing countries. In India, SMEs face a financing gap of over $221 billion, according to the SME Finance Forum. In developing countries, he said, the wide financing gap for SMEs not only prevents them from further growth, but also delays their digital transition.
“IFC's supports smaller firms in digitizing their business ecosystems, partnering with entities like Bizongo in India. Over the last four years, IFC has channeled more capital into digital infrastructure than in the previous two decades, totaling over $2 billion in the last fiscal year on a global scale.”
In his capacity as the Vice President of Industries, Mr. Gouled oversees IFC's global sectoral communities of practice and leads business development with global clients to create development impacts in partnership with the private sector in client countries. During his India visit, he met with several industry leaders and discussed ways to mobilize for investments to support the private sector in the country.