Workshop on small and medium enterprises’ access to finance and the role of development banks in Asia and the Pacific and Latin America

27 Sep 2017 to 28 Sep 2017
Bangkok, Thailand

The objective of this workshop is to discuss challenges and tools to enhance access to finance by small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) in Asia and the Pacific and Latin America. SMEs constitute the largest number of companies in any country and play a fundamental role in the creation of employment, the development of skills, and the diffusion of technological knowledge. Past studies have also shown that financial access helps generate new firms, which are generally vibrant and creative. However, in comparison to larger firms, SMEs often have difficulties to access financing from the formal financial system because financial institutions, particularly commercial banks, often view providing loans to them as too risky or involving high transaction costs.

Because of the significant role of SMEs in supporting inclusive growth, employment and innovation, enhancing their access to finance is highlighted in Sustainable Development Goals 8 and 9 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The importance of enhancing access of SMEs to financial services was also emphasized in the Fourth High-level Dialogue on Financing for Development in Asia and the Pacific organized by ESCAP in April 2017. In addition, the promotion of financial inclusion is one of the areas for deepening regional cooperation in the regional road map for implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in Asia and the Pacific adopted by ESCAP member States in May 2017.

The workshop will focus both on market-based approaches and on the role of national development banks, and it will discuss ways to improve countries’ lending infrastructure and financial regulation, as well as opportunities and challenges arising from the rapid expansion of fintechs. Recommendations emanating from the workshop will provide guidance to countries in Asia and the Pacific and Latin America on strategies to enhance SMEs financing while ensuring financial stability and fiscal sustainability. The workshop is expected to identify needs and areas for furthering regional cooperation in both Asia and the Pacific and in Latin America to support developing countries implement effective policies and reforms to enhance the financial inclusion of SMEs.