Berlin, Germany. April 25th, 2017, FAST role as leading expert in the workshop on Sustainability Standards Adoption among SMEs and Demand for Finance and the Responsible Finance Forum VIII, hosted by German Development Institute and Managing Global Governance (DIE MGG).
The event focused on the presentation of highlights from country case studies on this issue presented by individuals from Brazil, China, India, Indonesia and South Africa. There was a plenary discussion and contributions from experts on the topics of the significance of standards, drivers, and constraints for standards implementation by SMEs, and the role of financial institutions, large corporations, and other stakeholders.
FAST represented by colleague Serena Thomson, (Partnerships and Business Development Manager), described the positive correlation she observed between SMEs having voluntary sustainability standards and accessing finance. It is important to note that for banks, financial health and business acumen come first when considering a potential credit client. The certification is a very strong indicator that an enterprise has a number of attributes that are attractive to banks, which could include good governance, access to markets and sound record keeping skills.
Another relationship between sustainability standards and finance is that SMEs will frequently, though not always, require financing in order to transition to more sustainable agricultural practices and obtain certification. This means that when consumers and commodity buyers are demanding more sustainable products, it will be important to consider how SMEs will finance necessary upgrades to their farming and labor practices.
In the same week, FAST also attended the RESPONSIBLE FINANCE FORUM VIII: Opportunities and Risks in Digital Financial Services Protecting Consumer Data and Privacy in Berlin, Germany. To quote the briefing provided by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development:
“Digital Financial Services (DFS) hold enormous potential for financial inclusion, having enabled 700 million adults access to financial services between 2011 and 2014 alone. At the same time, digitization in the financial sector raises new challenges related to data protection and privacy.”
The event convened distinguished speakers from governments, traditional financial institutions, fintech, ICT companies, development organizations and others to highlight key action areas in the advancement of responsible finance in the digital sphere. FAST participated in a sub-session entitled Strategic Collaboration with Development Partners and Investors. As we move forward in a world where new tech innovations can unlock life-enhancing possibilities for people in emerging markets, governments, development partners, and other investors will have to be careful to balance innovation with risk. Above all, it is important for all people to have a full understanding of the policies of new digital financial services in relation to data protection and privacy, consumer protection, and rates and pricing.