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SME Financier of the Year Award Information session

05 June 2024
8 : 00
9 : 30
SME Financier of the Year Award Information session

Global SME Finance Awards 2024

Information Session - SME Financier of the Year


Be recognized, Share impact in SME FINANCE


The SME Finance Forum organizes the Global SME Finance Awards (The Awards) as a core part of its mission to create a unique platform for peer connections, knowledge dissemination, and innovations in SME Finance. The Forum’s extensive 300+ global network, crowds in financial institutions, fintech companies, development banks, policymakers, and industry experts from across the globe, fostering collaboration, knowledge sharing, and partnership building on a global scale. Hence, the Global SME Finance Awards has evolved into a pinnacle of global recognition for those making a real impact in the SME finance landscape.

Since its launch in 2018, The Awards recognize and celebrate the outstanding achievements of financial service providers in delivering exceptional products and services to scale SME finance in their respective markets. It provides an opportunity for institutions to highlight and share good practices, impact, knowledge, and be recognized amongst the global peer group of world leaders in SME finance and services.

We are rolling out a series of Information Sessions during the 2024 Awards Season to share with Financial Service Providers (FSPs) and Industry Stakeholders the role and importance of The Awards in showcasing remarkable achievements and impact in the industry. The sessions also aim to provide information on the application process, respective awards categories, and related information on the awards. Speakers include industry leaders and practitioners from the Forum’s global network, as well as past applicants and winners.

This information session will focus on the SME Financier of the Year category, its role, importance, and value to Financial Service Providers (FSPs). Winners and applicants from prior years will also discuss their innovations, impacts, and application experience. The session will include a moderated Q&A to address specific questions from entrants.


  • Share the role and importance of the Global SME Finance Awards in facilitating impact and spurring innovations in SME Finance
  • Entrants Incentives and Benefits
  • Provide information on the Category, Application Process and Judging Criteria
  • Highlight What’s New in the 2024 Season
  • Share experiences and highlight innovations and achievements of Past Winners/ Applicants
  • Address specific questions from existing and prospective entrants.



Moderator: Ayodele Olojede, Divisional Head, Retail & SME Wema Bank

Ayo is thDivision Head for Retail BankingWema Bank Plc. and she was the Group Head of Emerging Businesses at Access Bank until August 2023. She has been responsible for the strategy formulation to deliver the bottom-line factor of the division. Ayo has over 20 years operational banking experience in Africa and North America at HSBC and Skye Bank (now Polaris) prior to joining Access Bank. She is very passionate about the sustainable growth of MSMEs and possesses strong knowledge and hands on experience of best practices in SME banking, value propositions and risk management approaches to expand financial access to SMEs and women led businesses. Her work has achieved recognition for “best in class” SME specific credit assessment methodology both locally and internationally to expand lending to “new to Borrowing” SMEs. She is a member of the bank’s Digital Council which has overall responsibility for the bank’s digital strategy, approved partnership with fintech companies and monitoring the implementation of digital initiatives.  She is a university scholar, a Fellow Chartered Accountant and holds an MBA degree from Kellogg School of Management, Evanston. She speaks globally on SME Finance and Business services. 

Patricia Blanco, Head Fintech Services for Sellers, Mercado Libre

Patricia leads Fintech Services for Sellers at Mercado Pago, the fintech side of Mercado Libre. For 20+ years, Mercado Libre has been using technology to democratize commerce and financial services in Latin America, generating profound transformation for its millions of users. Mercado Pago offers a comprehensive set of fintech services, both for individuals and SMEs, reaching approximately 50 million active users. Patricia holds an MBA from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and her prior experiences include +10 years in strategic consulting.


Vincent W. Zheng, Deputy General Manager, WeBank

Vincent is an AI practitioner in the world’s leading digital bank. He develops FinTech solutions for SME finance. The solutions, ranging from user growth to user experience, are serving millions of SME’s in China.



Minerva Kotei

Minerva leads the Awards and the Women’s Entrepreneurship Finance work at the SME Finance Forum. She has over 18 years’ experience in emerging markets financial sector working in SME/Gender finance, leasing, capital markets, and institutional advisory services. She has worked on a broad range of financial sector interventions providing solutions to financial institutions and policy makers in several countries in East Asia and the Pacific, South Asia, East and West Africa regions. She has led several knowledge management initiatives including the development of a Global Leasing Toolkit/Manual to disseminate IFC’s 40 years leasing experience. Prior to joining IFC, she worked with leading financial institutions in Ghana.



Nader Saad Ali, Head of SME Banking at Banque du Caire

Nader Saad is a result driven banking executive with more than 25 years of experience. He is skilled in leading the transformation of Commercial Banking / SME Banking businesses.
Nader is the Head of SME Banking Group at Banque du Caire. Prior to joining BdC in 2018, Nader served as Head of SME Segments at Attijariwafa Bank Egypt. He also previously served as the Head of Commercial Banking at Barclays Bank Egypt.


Host: Qamar Saleem, Head SME Finance Forum

Prior to this role, Qamar was the Manager Financial Institutions Group Advisory Services for Asia and Pacific driving leading a large team across 20 countries aimed at providing integrated investment/advisory client solutions across mainly MSME, Gender, Climate, Digital, Housing, Trade, and Supply Chain Finance. Qamar has been with IFC since 2012 and served in his previous roles as global technical lead for SME and Supply Chain Finance as well as regional SME Banking lead for EMENA.  Qamar has 30+ years of global financial services experience having worked across 60+ countries internationally managing large business lines while leading multi-cultural and cross-functional teams. He is a recognized thought leader, featured speaker, and an industry mentor in SME Finance. Prior to joining IFC, Qamar was associated with international organizations like HSBC, Standard Chartered Bank, Deutsche Bank as well as large regional banks while serving in several emerging markets where he also led SME Banking and Commercial Banking Divisions.  Qamar holds a Master’s degree in Business Administration and carries several certifications in the areas of Strategy, Climate Finance, Digital Banking, Business Transformation, Social Impact, MSME Banking, Team Leadership, Supply Chain Finance, Credit, Risk, Trade, Sales Effectiveness, Transaction Banking and Project Implementation.


If you want to see general information about the Awards, click on the link of the past information sessions recordings LINK

If you are ready, submit your entries here!


Financial EducationFinancial InclusionAlternative Financing