World Bank Group–Kafalah SME Financing Conference, Riyadh

Monday 13 May 2019

World Bank Group – Kafalah SME Financing Conference was held on April 29-30th, 2019, in Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

This is a unique annual event organized by the Kafalah program for SME financing in cooperation with the World Bank group. The organization sponsored by this Excellency minister of commerce and investment by Dr. Majid bin Abdullah Al Qasabi and H.E. Governor of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA), Dr. Ahmed Bin Abdulkarim Al Kholifey.

During the two-day event a lot of information was provided on the current financing environment for SME’s in Saudi Arabia and opportunities to develop it, build relationships between public and private financial institutions, legislative bodies, and governmental agencies that support financing.

On different panel discussions, speakers discussed current and future financial opportunities for specific business sectors and fields including best practices for SME banking services, expanding financing options through non-banking finance institutions, new supply chain solutions for industrial and tourism industries.

One other important topic of the conference was Fintech revolutionizing SME finance landscape. During the conference speakers highlight the latest trends and developments in Fintech, touching up on the importance of the regulatory framework that balances financial integrity and stability while fostering the enabling environment for innovation in the financial system.

During the panel discussion on expanding financing solutions for SMEs, Mr. Homam Hashem, chief executive officer of Kafalah gave a brief explanation about SME financing in Saudi Arabia. Until recently Saudi Arabia did not have formally dedicated resources for SME lending, and the loan to SME’s have been at %2 of the total lending. During the panel discussion of expanding the financial solution for SMEs lending, we discussed how NBFIs could position themselves competitively in the SME financing market and highlight challenges and opportunities in the context of Saudi Arabia.

Ms. Betül Kurtulus, Regional Director of FCI responsible from Middle East region, participated the panel discussion on expanding financial solutions for SMEs and gave a brief explanation about FCI, international factoring, Islamic international factoring , FCIreverse and alternative solutions for SME financing under FCI umbrella.

Kafalah Program (a state-sponsored SME financing program) is holding this meeting for the first time with the World Bank. There has been participation from the Ministry of Commerce and Investment at the meeting. Also, the Governor of Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA) has participated in the event. In addition to that, there have been participants from other governmental authorities and legislative bodies. During the two days panel discussion period, there has been plenty of panel discussions about a great variety of subjects. The Riyadh meeting which the World Bank supported with broad participation was very successful.