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Financial Services
IFC helps banks increase small business access to finance.

TASHKENT, September 14 (UzReport.com): International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, is helping bankers develop their operations and provide financial services to improve access to finance for small and medium enterprises in East Asia and the Pacific.

IFC, in collaboration with the governments of Japan and the Netherlands, is training bankers on building sustainable small and medium banking operations in Ho Chi Minh City on 13-16 September.

The training program covers strategy and market segmentation, product design, credit risk management, and information management systems. It also includes a training-of-trainers component that will ensure sustainability of the training offering in local markets beyond IFC's workshop.

More than 35 bankers and trainers from 15 institutions in Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam are participating in the event, which is part of a training program developed by IFC's Global SME Banking Program to help banks in emerging markets assess the potential benefits of targeting the small-business sector and to build or expand this line of business.

Small and medium enterprises are a major driver of economic growth and job creation, yet in the Mekong region, smaller enterprises struggle to finance the growth of their businesses.

"Financial institutions often reject SMEs as too risky, usually because they try to serve them using corporate or consumer banking models. Those that rise to the challenge, developing new approaches that fit this market, find that SMEs can become one of their most profitable business lines. That is why training and capacity building in SME banking is so important," said Matthew Gamser, Principal, Advisory Services of IFC in East Asia and the Pacific.

Huong Nguyen, Head of SME department, Vietinbank, said, "The SME banking training is quite comprehensive and of practical significance to banks in Vietnam as it covers all areas of SME banking. It also is an opportunity to exchange experiences with other SME banking practitioners."

IFC also has conducted similar trainings in Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, the Middle East and North Africa, and the Caribbean.

Invest AD, Japan's SBI to launch $100 mln Africa fund

Abu Dhabi government-owned Invest AD on Monday said it was launching a $100 million fund with Japanese financial services firm SBI Holdings Inc to invest in Africa.

The new fund, seeded equally by both companies, will focus on Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco and will invest in a broad range of sectors, a statement from Invest AD said.

The fund has a mandate to invest in listed equities, initial public offerings (IPOs), as well as pre-IPO and unlisted equity.

The jointly-run fund management company plans to launch additional funds that will be open to third party investors with strong interest expected in Asia, the statement said.

"Fundamentals in the region are strong. There is improved stability, and we see immense future wealth potential -- not only as a supplier of raw materials, but also in the growth of consumerism and in manufacturing bases," Nazem Fawwaz Al Kudsi, chief executive of Invest AD said in the statement.

Invest AD, owned by the Abu Dhabi government, has also established partnerships with BHF-BANK in Germany, the Korean Development Bank, and Hong Kong's Quam Ltd.

African equity funds have attracted net new cash in 51 of the last year's 52 weeks, underscoring the evolution of the continent's frontier markets as a serious investment play.

According to the Washington-based fund tracker, EPFR Global, a net $660 million flowed into African regional funds over the last 12 months -- not vast sums on the global scale but far more than Africa has ever attracted in the past.

(Reporting by Stanley Carvalho, Editing by Dinesh Nair)


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