MAS, IFC and UNDP launch global program for financial education and empowerment of MSMEs

Singapore, 14 June 2022… The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), in partnership with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), today launched an open education program and action plans for micro, small and medium-sized (MSMEs) in Asia and Africa. Known as the SME Financial Empowerment (SFE) , this program aims to help MSMEs acquire basic skills in digital financial literacy and gain a good understanding of cross-border financial services relevant to MSMEs, in order to help them thrive in the post-pandemic digital economy. The SFE has been rolled out with market partners in Asia and Africa, starting with Ghana, India, the Philippines and Singapore, and will benefit over 400,000 MSMEs in both regions.

2 SFE is an inclusive and structured program run on a digital portal operated by ProxteraProxtera is SFE’s main operating partner. Proxtera provides a global platform to connect commercial marketplaces, service providers and financial institutions to simplify trade, finance and digital services for SMEs. Proxtera is currently connected to 18 ecosystems in 8 countries in Asia and Africa., which provides a global platform to connect national SME ecosystems and catalyze cross-border trade, finance and digital services. Other key entities supporting the SFE are the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), the Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS) and the Global FinTech Institute (GFI). In 2022, the SFE aims to help MSMEs in three key areas: essential financial digital skills, financial services to MSMEs and access and growth of the digital economy. The first installment of the program will include two learning modules focused on essential financial digital skills –

(a) Fundamental Financial Literacy which covers basic financial concepts and essential financial products for MSMEs.
(b) Global Financial Literacy which provides MSMEs with the knowledge to connect to the digital economy and grow internationally by leveraging networks, financial services, fintech solutions and digital tools.

Other learning modules will be released in future installments. At the end of each module, companies will receive a digitally verifiable certificate issued by SUSS and GFI, which provides access to financial services tools and knowledge services through a resource center.

3 SFE learning modules incorporate best practices on key financial literacy and finance topics, benefiting from program sponsors, Ant Group, Digital Pilipinas, Globe Telecom, Validus and Visa as well as a wider ecosystem of community partners , including Bolttech, Coface, Consolidated Bank of Ghana, Development Bank of GhanaDBG is a development finance institution established in Ghana to increase access of MSMEs and large enterprises to long-term finance and job creation in key sectors including agribusiness, manufacturing and services. high added value services.and the Philippine Trade Training Center of the Department of Commerce and Industry of the Philippines.

4 The SFE builds on an earlier Memorandum of Understanding between MAS and IFC on the Financial Trust Corridor (FTC) initiative to foster broader financial knowledge sharing, financial confidence building and financial inclusion for MSMEs and financial institutions in developing markets. The FTC includes a cross-border, multi-party governance framework and trusted closed-loop digital infrastructure, which governments and financial institutions in different countries can use to share verified information about foreign trading counterparties and their supporting financial institutions. This information will help businesses involved in cross-border trade gain easier access to finance.

5 Sopnendu Mohanty, Chief FinTech Officer of MAS, said: “An empowered MSME is essential to a fair and sustainable digital economy. Such empowerment begins with the culture of the digital economy. The affordable, small-scale learning program provided by SFE is a collaborative effort involving financial institutions and the public and private sectors. Through the Foundational and Global Financial Literacy modules, MSMEs in Asia and Africa will benefit from new skills to leverage networks, financial and digital tools to grow their business internationally.

6 Qamar Saleem, Regional Industry Manager, Financial Institutions Group Advisory Services, Asia and Pacific at IFC, said, “We are delighted to partner with MAS and UNDP on this impactful initiative, which has the potential to improve livelihoods. thousands of small business owners. in emerging markets. Empowering MSMEs to acquire financial literacy and digital skills will help level the playing field for small businesses, helping to close financing gaps and improve financial inclusion. Our team in Singapore will also play a vital role in maximizing the impact of this program with their vast knowledge and decades of experience in implementing best practices and strengthening MSME processes and resources on emerging markets around the world. We look forward to leveraging our expertise to build a better future for MSMEs in Asia and Africa. »

seven Marcos Neto, Director of UNDP’s Financial Sector Hub, pointed out that: “In every country in the world, SMEs play a central role in the economy and society – and they are also the backbone of the economy. world. SMEs represent up to 90% of the business segment in many countries – and also up to 80% of employment. But too often, the potential of SMEs is limited by gaps in knowledge about digital processes and technologies. Helping SMEs participate in the digital economy, through relevant training and digital financial skills, can unlock productive and sustainable growth opportunities. This knowledge is a real catalyst and an important reason why UNDP is delighted to collaborate with the IFC and the Monetary Authority of Singapore in this important initiative. These efforts also align with UNDP’s global work which has a strong focus on sustainable SME growth and aims to mobilize increased and more sustainable financing for SMEs.

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