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Media »Speech at the SME finance event

March 6, 2018

Liz Patterson, DFID Private Sector Development Adviser

Yangon, Myanmar


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Deputy Governor, Ladies and Gentlemen. Good morning, it is a real pleasure to be here today with you all.


I want to thank the Central Bank of Myanmar, the IFC and the World Bank for organising this conference. Access to finance for small and medium size businesses is a vital issue and it is great to see so many people gathered here in recognition of that.


And we must recognise just how fundamental to the success of Myanmar increased lending and access to finance for SME’s is and just how important these businesses are to the success of the Myanmar economy as a whole.


Because more than any other sector in the economy, SME’s are at the heart of the future success of this country. They are essential to a prosperous, inclusive and sustainable future for Myanmar. In fact SME’s are the beating heart of the Myanmar economy, just as they are in the UK and other economies around the world.


And SME’s are absolutely crucial for Myanmar’s development. As State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi herself said last year:


“SMEs are a sector we cannot afford to ignore improving, as they make up 99 per cent of our economic force, so there is no need to clarify just how important they are in the development of our nation.”


So if we want to see truly transformational growth and prosperity across Myanmar then there is no better way of doing so than by supporting SME’s to grow and provide new economic opportunities for people across the country, creating jobs and improving incomes.


This is why the UK Government is so keen to support small businesses to become robust and competitive so they can meet the challenges of a changing Myanmar economy.


And businesses here in Myanmar have been very clear about their priorities and what is holding them back.


In a recent survey almost a quarter of firms cited lack of access to finance as their number one constraint.


Which is why it is so good that we can gather here today to look at and discuss new and innovative ways for Myanmar to tackle the issue of access to finance for SME’s.


This conference is an example of how the UK has committed resources to working towards improving lending to SME’s here in Myanmar as it is organised by the IFC as part of the global SME finance facility which is funded by DFID.


The IFC’s Global SME Finance Facility is a blended-finance partnership which focuses on helping to close the financing gap faced by SMEs in emerging markets such as Myanmar.


It seeks to catalyse access to finance for SMEs globally with the goal of generating one million new jobs in the SME sector. And globally, as in Myanmar, the facility dedicates its efforts toward the most underserved segments, such as SMEs in fragile countries, very small enterprises, and women-owned enterprises.


Here in Myanmar the programme is currently supporting the creation of a credit bureau with over $2.2 million of funding and is also providing another $2.2 million towards the development of a secured transactions law and registry, with over half of this funding coming from DFID.


Beyond DFID’s support for the IFC we are also looking at other ways to clear away the hurdles to accessing finance that frustrate so many companies as they seek to grow and thrive.


This includes the work of our DaNa Facility which alongside the Government, financial regulators and financial institutions is working to improve financial inclusion across Myanmar.


We’re doing all this because it makes economic sense. Because we know that our work will result in transformative financing and funding for small businesses across the country. Financing that in turn will act as a catalyst for growth, leading to improved livelihoods and increased prosperity for people in Myanmar.


It will mean exciting and rewarding jobs for those leaving school; new services and opportunities for consumers across the country and a more prosperous life for growing families from poorer communities across Myanmar.


As I come to the end of this speech I just wanted to focus on the Central Bank of Myanmar. As we have the Deputy Governor here, to thank you personally for the productive working relationship that we have together.


We in the UK Government are grateful for the opportunity to be here and to work alongside you as you seek to promote a more prosperous and inclusive future for Myanmar.


Thank you so much for having me here today.