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Driving SME investment in emerging economies

Past Event BII London office and online From to

Co-hosted by the IGC and British International Investment (BII), this event explores the challenges and opportunities for SME growth and investment in emerging economies.


  • Chair: Jonathan Leape, Executive Director, International Growth Centre and Associate Professor of Economics, London School of Economics
  • Steven Ayres, Development Economist, British International Investment
  • Tim Dobermann, Director of Research, International Growth Centre
  • Jacob Kholi, Chief Executive and Investment Officer, Growth Investment Partners Ghana
  • Hardika Shah, Founder and Chief Executive, Kinara Capital
  • Maria Smith, Chief Impact Officer, British International Investment

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are the backbone of emerging economies, driving innovation and providing valuable employment opportunities. However, the lack of suitable finance is a well-known constraint on the growth of these businesses.

The SME financing gap in developing countries is estimated at $4.1 trillion. The answer seems obvious: increase supply. But the persistence of the problem tells us it is not so easily solved. The SME financing landscape is complex, and because the financing needs of these businesses are varied, the solutions must be varied too.

The discussion examines important questions: What are the barriers to success for SMEs in these markets? What is the most effective way to bridge the financing gap? How can we foster financial and business model innovation to meet the diverse needs of these businesses? And how do we measure the true development impact of improved access to finance for SMEs?

This event is delivered in partnership with British International Investment and draws on the findings of two reports: the IGC's report on Why do SMEs matter; and BII's report on How and why we finance SMEs.

Find out more.