IDB’s Moreno calls on Latin America & Caribbean to boost financing for SME’s

IDB President Luis Alberto Moreno called on Latin America and the Caribbean to promote the development of small and medium-sized companies (SME’s) so the region can continue to make progress in its poverty reduction efforts.

“SME’s face a variety of barriers that prevent their growth, but most SMEs rate access to finance as the main obstacle,” said Moreno, during the XV Inter-American Forum on Microenterprise (Foromic 2012), an event jointly organized by the Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF), a member of the IDB Group, and the government of Barbados.

Without diminishing our attention on financial inclusion and the micro level, there are a series of initiatives we are developing to promote the growth of SMEs through greater access to finance, markets and information resources,” Moreno added.

McKinsey & Company estimates that over 35 percent of the more than 1.1 million formal small and medium-sized enterprises in the region do not have access to credit, and the existing financing gap amounts to between $125 billion and $155 billion.

Speaking to an audience of about 1,000 people, Moreno noted that the IDB, the MIF and the Inter-American Development Corporation have been supporting SME development through several programs ranging from capacity building for women entrepreneurs, technical assistance for financial institutions to better assess credit risk of SMEs, and investments in venture capital funds.

Barbados Prime Minister Freundel Stuart also participated in the opening ceremony. During his speech, Stuart stressed the importance of Foromic to stimulate enterprenuership.

“Barbados, like many other countries around the world, is facing tough economic times,” he said. “One of the new columns in which the economy must be rebuilt is that of entrepreneurship of all levels. The relevance and importance of a forum at this time, therefore, cannot be overstated.”

Foromic is the leading forum for exploring ways to support and finance microenterprises, small and medium-sized companies, and small farmers in Latin America and the Caribbean. The event, which for the first time is being held in the English-Speaking Caribbean, is focusing this year on innovative ways to unlock entrepreneurship and it will continue through Oct. 3.

Entrepreneurship is a powerful driver of both growth and poverty reduction, which is at the core of the MIF’s mandate,” said Nancy Lee, MIF’s General Manager. “The theme of this year’s Foromic about unlocking entrepreneurship through innovative solutions reflects our shared challenges of giving entrepreneurs the tools they need to start and grow their businesses. Foromic has evolved as the region’s needs have evolved. Adding to our microcredit agenda, we also discuss savings, insurance, green finance, and innovative financial models for SMEs.”

The event is hoped to add business tourism in Barbados, create business opportunities for Caribbean entrepreneurs with other Latin American countries and serve as a venue to showcase Caribbean culture to Latin American participants through the Barbados and the Caribbean Day and other social events.

New MIF Projects

Moreno also signed four new projects the MIF will finance in the region in the areas of access to finance, savings, and promotion of greener business practices among SME’s.

The MIF will provide technical assistance to Bancolombia in order to provide mobile financial services in remote rural areas and finance a project in Colombia’s Antioquia in collaboration with microenterprise associations and credit cooperatives to expand and diversify the supply of financial services in rural areas.

In El Salvador, the MIF announced it will provide technical assistance to a project to develop new savings products for families that receive conditional cash transfers and other social protection payments in 18 municipalities in the country.

For Barbados, the MIF signed a technical cooperation agreement with Future Centre Trust Inc. to promote the adoption of water and energy efficiency as well as waste reduction measures among SMEs through thedevelopment of aGreen Business Certification Program, which will establish common standards for companies that will be recognized internationally.

During the inauguration, Moreno delivered the Inter-American Awards for Microenterprise Development, which are supported by the Citi Foundation. Banco ADOPEM of the Dominican Republic, Banca Comunitaria Banesco from Venezuela, Financiera Comultrasan from Colombia, and Colectivo Integral de Desarrollo from Peru, won this year’s awards for their excellence in providing support to microenterprises in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Citi Foundation, which sponsors Foromic, delivered the award for excellence in local entrepreneurship to William Nathaniel Beckles, a Barbadian entrepreneur, who created the Little League Gym in Barbados, a health club that offers traditional fitness classes and state-of-the-art equipment, as well as a general merchandise store called Willimart.

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