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The G20 tries to get hip

Ryan Hahn's picture

Usually, the term 'G20' induces images of interminable meetings and high-minded but vaguely worded communiques. But the G20 is trying to get hip. It is sponsoring a competition to crowdsource ideas for one of the perennial problems of development (and one greatly exacerbated by the financial crisis) -- access to finance by SMEs. Here are the details:

Submit your solution, or nominate a project, to the G-20 SME Finance Challenge for how public finance can unlock private finance to small and medium enterprise on a sustainable and scalable basis. The goal of the Challenge is to identify catalytic and well-targeted public interventions to unlock private finance for SMEs. Maximizing leverage of scarce public resources is at the core of the Challenge.

So far, the most interesting suggestion actually draws on the same idea as the contest itself: Crowdsourcing loans to SMEs. I imagine this would look something like Kiva, but with a greater focus on somewhat more formal and larger enterprises. But the list of submissions is still short -- the description of the competition states that up to 15 winners will be picked, but by my count there are only 12 submissions so far. Looks like pretty good odds for anyone with a bright idea about expanding access to finance for SMEs! 

(H/t to Thorsten Beck, who is also sitting on the jury for the competition.)


I find it a very exciting development, an interesting public-private-grassroot partnership (G-20-- Rockefeller Foundation--Ashoka--open-source projects). Full disclosure- I work in another department at Ashoka. I would expect the final count of entries to be between 300-400, potentially more because of the high value of the door-opening opportunities as the particular award. I would also say that the real value is not necessarily becoming one of the winners of the competition, but also in participating in the discussions, finding partners, being part of the landscape for research about trends/innovations, etc. and also the Changemakers competitions tend to attract third-party funders who watch for compelling investments across all entrants but the finalists definitely added attention. Should be interesting...

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