Micro, Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (MSMEs) are key drivers of job creation, economic diversification and innovation, especially in developing countries whose economies are frequently based on natural resources. Despite their critical role, MSMEs face a broad range of constraints that smother their potential. These include poor hard and soft infrastructure, unhelpful environments, as well as a lack of skills, experienced mentors and easily accessible markets. Of primary importance, however, is that access to finance for MSMEs is severely restricted in many developing countries. The total unmet need for credit by all formal and informal MSMEs in emerging markets today is significant – in the range of $2.1 trillion to $2.5 trillion, according to the IFC and McKinsey.
One area for focus is building the capacity of local financial institutions to provide finance for SMEs. CDC, the UK’s development finance institution (DFI), whose mission is building businesses in Africa and Asia and creating jobs, works with over 200 financial institutions in 30+ countries to make SME finance more easily available. In Uganda, CDC is this year celebrating the 50th anniversary of DFCU, which it co-founded with the Government of Uganda in 1964. DFCU has grown to become one of the country’s largest banks and a leading provider of finance to small businesses.
To coincide with this anniversary, Business Fights Poverty in partnership with CDC is leading a discussion on how best to help small businesses to grow.
Key questions for the discussion include:
- What are the biggest constraints currently facing small businesses, particularly in relation to accessing finance, and where are the most significant gaps in terms of the provision of enterprise support?
- Where are the innovations happening in relation to SME support, especially around financing, what are we learning about what works, and how can we move towards solutions at scale?
- In which areas can public-private collaboration provide the greatest value for small businesses, and where should investments focus?
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