GBF Wins G-20 SME Finance Challenge

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Press Advisory

Contact: Michael Stulman,
C: 202-469-9542

In an Unprecedented Competition, GBF Wins G-20 SME Finance Challenge

Proposal to be scaled up and expanded with millions of dollars and introduced at the Seoul Summit November 11-12

November 1, 2010 (Washington, DC) – During the G-20 Pittsburgh Summit, leaders launched a global SME Finance Challenge to locate the best models worldwide that are catalyzing finance for small and medium enterprises (SMEs). The first ever competition was a unique financial inclusion initiative aimed at giving small entrepreneurs a chance to help them grow and scale up solutions.

The Grassroots Business Fund, an impact investing organization that builds and supports High Impact Businesses around the world, is proud to announce that it has been named one of 14 winners for the G-20 SME Finance Challenge. The winning proposals will be scaled up and expanded with millions of dollars and introduced at the Seoul Summit this November.

GBF’s executive director Harold Rosen has accepted the invitation to the Summit and said today, “We are quite honored. This is a special occasion for us, and an exciting opportunity to build and support new sustainable, scalable, and replicable models for improving access to financial services for the poor, as well as develop new approaches in the field. ”

SMEs play a major role in economic development, particularly in emerging economies. They are the single largest contributor to employment and job creation, and account for a significant share of GDP around the world. Yet, lack of access to finance is a major obstacle to their growth. SMEs are often too small and too risky to attract commercial bank or investor interest, but too large to benefit from microfinance products. This ‘missing middle” often fall through the cracks. Many also require hands-on technical assistance and training which cannot be financed with short-term microfinance loans or existing sources of commercial capital.

GBF’s proposal to establish the “East African Rural Enterprise Facility” will help create wealth, and provide jobs for up to 150 SMEs specializing in agribusiness. These groups are typically underserved by existing financial service providers, a situation which has prevented many of them from obtaining equipment to increase productivity, expand operations, or generate revenue. In addition, the East African Rural Enterprise Facility will provide technical assistance targeted at improving the business management, reporting systems, and internal controls of these SMEs.

“In East Africa, one of the biggest constraints to the growth of SMEs is a lack of access to long-term capital, especially in the agribusiness sector. We believe this will help bridge the gap and provide long-term financing as well as targeted technical assistance for business capacity,” said Agnes Dasewicz, GBF’s Chief Operating Officer.

To date, GBF has invested $7 million in 28 businesses across 12 countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, and its clients have impacted the lives of 4.5 million people.

Key supporters to date have included International Finance Corporation, FMO and the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, OeEB: the Development Bank of Austria for the Austrian government, Omidyar Network, Luxembourg and Netherlands governments and philanthropists worldwide.

For more information, visit and download our 2010 Annual Report.