President and CEO Mary Ellen Iskenderian will speak at the “Responsible Financial Inclusion for Social Inclusion and Stability” G7 Deauville Partnership High Level Conference in Berlin, Germany on Tuesday, April 28.

She is part of on the following panel:

Advancing financial inclusion for SME in the region

Formal SMEs contribute up to 45% of employment and 33% of GDP in developing economies. As such SMEs have a significant role in overall economic growth, employment and job creation, as well as addressing inequality and poverty reduction. Access to finance is widely reported as one of the main barriers to growth for SMEs with 70% of micro, small and medium enterprises lacking any access to external finance, and another 15% being under-financed. In the MENA region the credit gap for MSMEs is estimated at $210 to $240 billion. In fact the MENA region has some of the worst statistics for SME access to finance. Women-owned SMEs in the MENA region are likely to face amongst the greatest challenges in accessing finance, with female entrepreneurship levels of 12-15% compared to the global average of 38%. Recent work by GPFI documented SME finance policy approaches of G20 countries and beyond, which may serve as examples to be shared and learned from. Nevertheless it is clear that interventions need to be tailored to regional and national circumstances, and that the overall scale of the challenge remains very substantial.

Key speaker:

  • Stefan Kapferer, Deputy Secretary General, OECD


  • Moderator: Mary Ellen Iskenderian, President and CEO, Women’s World Banking (WWB) (confirmed)
  • Nasser Al Qahtani, Executive Director, Arab Gulf Program for Development (AGFUND) (confirmed)
  • Ali Ouerghi, Ministry of Finance Tunisia (confirmed)
  • Qamar Saleem, Senior SME Banking Specialist MENA, International Finance Corporation (IFC) (confirmed)
  • Wolfgang Reuß, Head of Division North Africa and Middle East, Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW) (confirmed)
  •  Associate Prof. Dr. Abdelrhman Elzahi Saaid, Senior Economist & IRTI Research Coordinator, Islamic Development Bank Group (confirmed)