Bridging the missing middle gap in Africa-Emrc

With a renewed impetus by the international community to develop Africa’s Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) sector, the African Development Bank (AfDB) and EMRC International are jointly hosting the AfDB – EMRC SME Forum as a side event to the AfDB’s Annual Meetings to be held from 6-10 June 2011, in Lisbon Portugal.

This forum will bring together leading figures and stakeholders to discuss a common vision and establish tangible policies to ensure financing for this particular sector.

Following the G20 SME Initiative in 2010 there is increased international awareness of the significance of SMEs, also known as the Missing Middle. The AfDB – EMRC SME Forum will focus on increasing the growth and flow of the financial and non-financial support to this specific business community. Key industry players will discuss policies and strategies to move the SME sector forward.

The AfDB – EMRC SME Forum is designed for entrepreneurs, policy makers, financers and bankers as well as African development experts.

Discussions will concentrate on the Missing Middle as an opportunity for investors to achieve competitive financial returns and positive social impact.

The instruments currently used (guarantee funds, dedicated private equity initiatives, commercial bank lending and others) as well as successful financial innovations (credit scoring, payment systems, and financial products) will also be analyzed. Best practices of banks, venture funds, other financial intermediaries as well as SME non-financial support institutions will be showcased in an effort to accelerate commitments for this very important enterprise segment.

The growth of the SME sector in developing countries is hampered by a lack of access to finance, lagging far behind high-income countries whose SMEs bring in over 50% of the national GDP.

An estimated 95% of businesses in Africa are MSMEs (micro, small and medium-sized enterprises). Past experience clearly highlights the importance of private and public business partnerships to bring this sector to the forefront of the continent’s development. EMRC’s know-how in providing a platform for these two entities to come together has in the past and at present secured successful partnerships.

To elevate the Forum as a means to establish coherent and significant interaction and results, the B2B sessions will be available for all attendees. Pre-arranged Business-to-Business meetings assist participants to better identify business opportunities during the Forum. These unique sessions are organised and managed by a specialised organisation and have proved essential for participants to discuss proposals with the correct potential partners.

The Marketplace, a new feature at EMRC events, allows various organisations to have a personalised booth from 6-10 June, showcasing local and regional products, companies and community projects. Exposure and understanding of these products emerging at a local level is vital in order to establish successful and relevant policies and goals by the international community.

In addition, the EMRC-AfDB Project Incubator Award 2011 nominees and winner will be announced during the Forum. This Award has had an important impact for past winners and nominees, giving them international exposure and a significant cash prize.

To register for the AfDB-EMRC SME Forum please visit



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