Between January 2015 and November 2017, Simon Bell was Global Lead for SME Finance in the Finance and Markets Global Practice where he coordinated the financing support provided through F&M with colleagues dealing with SME issues in the Trade and Competitiveness Global Practice, the Financial Institutions Group of the IFC, the Advisory Services units of the IFC and the World Bank, and the SME Finance Forum. Simon also led the SME Finance Community of Practice which included more than 50 staff from F&M – as well as other associated staff from the IFC and other Global Practices, the IFC and World Bank Treasuries, and MIGA.
Prior to this role, Simon was the Sector Manager in the Finance and Private Sector unit of the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA) of the World Bank – where he worked for over five years on a wide range of both financial sector and private sector issues. A large component of the lending in the MENA region over this period was financing of SMEs – particularly as employment issues for young people loomed increasingly large after the advent of the Arab Spring. He worked on all the countries of the MENA region on Financial Sector, Private Sector and, increasingly, Knowledge and Innovation issues.
Prior to joining the MENA region, Simon occupied a similar management position in the South Asia region within the World Bank – where he worked for almost a decade. While working in the South Asia region his remit also included ICT issues – at a time when the ICT and ITES industry was booming in India and in other countries of South Asia. Prior to working in South Asia, he worked in the Africa region of the World Bank for eight years on similar FSD and PSD issues. Four years of this period he spent working in the World Bank’s Mozambique Field Office during the very exciting times of the mid-1990s. In addition to working extensively on Mozambique, he has also worked on most of the countries of Southern Africa – as well as extensive work on Tanzania and Eritrea in Eastern Africa.
Prior to joining the World Bank, Simon worked in the research department of the Central Bank of Botswana (Bank of Botswana) – working on monetary policy and financial sector issues. Prior to that he worked in the Ministry of Finance in Papua New Guinea for four years and at the Australian National University in Canberra, Australia for several years.
Simon has a Masters Degree in Development Economics from the University of New England, New South Wales, Australia. Simon has supervised large volumes of World Bank lending in the Africa, South Asia and Middle East regions over the past two decades – covering operational issues such as central bank restructuring, banking sector reform, SME and micro finance, infrastructure finance, housing finance, early stage innovation finance, finance for jobs, private sector development, tourism projects, development policy lending, etc.
He is keenly interested in innovation – and particularly the very rapid growth of fintech industries in crowdfunding, peer-to-peer lending, social/development impact bonds, psychometric testing and big data, etc – which have all emerged over the past decade.