International Symposium: "SME – Entrepreneurship at its best"
One of the deliverables of the G-20 SME Finance Challenge – besides the launch of a $528 million SME Finance Innovation Fund supported by South Korea, the U.S., Canada, and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) – was connecting competition winners with donors and investors at a small and medium-size enterprise (SME) conference in Cologne, Germany after the Seoul Summit.
On November 16, DEG (one of the largest European development finance institutions for long-term project and company financing) hosted the third international symposium from its Atrium Dialogues series: “SME – Entrepreneurship at its best.” Our 14 SME Finance Challenge winners joined more than 120 finance professionals from around the world to discuss the potential impact and challenges of bridging the finance gap, as well as the specific financing and consultancy needs of small and medium-size enterprises.
While the DEG symposium was held to facilitate access to capital for SMEs, it also acted as a platform for the winners of the G-20 SME Finance Challenge. Gudrun Kopp, Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development and Chairwoman of DEG’s Supervisory Board, raved about the competition’s success:
"With this competition, the G20 chose a new and innovative path. Germany played an active role in inviting the major player in the field to come up with new ideas: the private sector. The German development cooperation is also ready to contribute up to €30 million (nearly USD$40 million) to help implementing the winners' proposals.”
The €30 million commitment from DEG only adds to the increasing awareness and investment in the SME finance sector. At the symposium, DEG Chairman Bruno Wenn reaffirmed DEG's readiness to further improve the financing of small and medium-sized enterprises in developing countries, especially in the field of equity:
“Development finance institutions like DEG stand ready to scale up SME finance by giving entrepreneurs the necessary support with innovative approaches.”
And why not? SMEs are the engines of economic growth and employment worldwide; and entrepreneurs are the keys.