From 26 to28 October the annual Global SME Finance Forum took place. This time completely online, with the advantage that everyone in the world could join the Forum for free. On behalf of Brilliant Entrepreneur, Karen actively participated in the Forum by joining several sessions. She was pleasantly surprised by the attention for women entrepreneurs and by the fair amount of female speakers. Karen was also honoured that her essay about the capital value chain was accepted for the publication that is part of the Forum.
The challenges for small and medium sized entrepreneurs, banks and other financial institutions, caused by the Covid crisis were of course a main topic. It is actually seen by many speakers as the biggest crisis ever. It is very difficult for the banks and entrepreneurs to meet in person and to reach out to each other. Especially reaching the less represented groups, such as women entrepreneurs but also rural entrepreneurs, became harder. This resulted in a rapid acceleration of digital services, to the satisfaction of both the banks and the entrepreneurs. There was common agreement that this is the time for banks to stand out and show their service level. The banks that are best in staying in close communication with their clients will benefit now and in the future.
Regarding the situation of women, a worrisome negative effect of the crisis is the increase of Gender Based Violence and exclusion of women. A positive side note is that working from home is becoming the norm now and is better accepted, which is expected to be beneficiary for women.
The KCB bank in Kenya has an extensive portfolio of women entrepreneurs. According to Anastacia Kimtai, retail director of the bank, it took a number of integrated measures to achieve this success. These are the measures they took:
- Personal and individual attention to the female clients.
- Gender training for the desk staff.
- Credit products without collateral.
- Non-financial services, such as workshops and mentoring on bookkeeping, making a businessplan and relationship management.
- Networking opportunities among the women entrepreneurs.
Karen’s essay was awarded with publication in the Call for Insights. She wrote about the financing gap for business that need somewhere between EUR 20.000 and EUR100.000. Too big for the microfinance institutions and too small for the regular banks. Also, interest rates are often too high for them. On the other end of the capital chain we have the moderately affluent individuals in Europe. Not necessarily the super-rich, but all who have a spare EUR 10.000 on their savings account. Interest on these accounts is low, and there is a trend towards doing ‘something good’ with your money. According to Karen a solution is to bring these parties together. How? You can read that in her essay: Creating a capital value chain from wealthy individuals to small businesses (page 112-113)
For more information about sessions and speakers visit the Global SME Finance Forum