UNDP Expands Partnership With MAS to Help SMEs Step up Their Digital Capabilitiesby Fintech News Singapore December 8, 2020
The United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) Global Centre for Technology, Innovation and Sustainable Development and the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) have signed a partnership to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) leverage technology to better access global value chains.
The partnership will provide SMEs with innovative financial and digital tools to help them better leverage data and more effectively access financing solutions. It will also create new opportunities for SMEs, including fintechs, to expand to developing countries within the UNDP’s global network of 170 offices.
This partnership will start by bringing together three successful programmes from UNDP and MAS, namely Cultiv@te, Business sans Borders and API Exchange.
Cultiv@te is UNDP’s agri-tech programme that sources for new solutions from startups as well as research and development teams worldwide. Business sans Borders (BSB) is a joint initiative by MAS and Infocomm Media Development Authority to provide an open and global digital infrastructure for seamless trade discovery and digital business services connectivity. API Exchange (APIX) is an MAS-supported cross-border, open innovation API platform which acts as a curated global marketplace for financial institutions and fintechs.
SMEs play a critical role in the global economy, especially in developing countries. Yet these companies face significant challenges to access financing to support their growth. This problem has been further exacerbated by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The partnership between MAS and UNDP will help in three areas. The first would be to facilitate global outreach by SMEs. Cutting edge solutions by Cultiv@te’s finalists would be listed on the BSB hub for wider adoption by marketplaces and SMEs across UNDP’s focused countries.
The second area would be access to innovative financial and digital tools. UNDP and MAS will explore country specific use cases in Africa to accelerate the adoption of digital finance by SMEs. Identified SMEs would be able to access the APIX platform and its financial sector APIs to test and develop integrated financing solutions for trade, climate resilience, urban farming and more.
Lastly, to enable better access to global value chains. UNDP and MAS will pilot the use of blockchain technology to enhance product identification, validation and traceability in traditional supply chains such as agriculture and food products. This would provide greater credibility to international buyers and open up greater opportunities for SMEs. The project will build upon UNDP’s studies on blockchain applications for food traceability.
Where it makes sense, UNDP will also connect its various innovation efforts to the BSB hub Sandbox, a growing repository of data and problem statements, to help innovators design and develop solutions to improve services for SMEs.
“SMEs drive growth in the developing world, and strong, digitally-linked SMEs are crucial to the world’s recovery from the pandemic. We are thrilled to partner with MAS to help prototype and scale innovative financial solutions across the developing world,”
said Bradley Busetto, Director of the UNDP Global Centre Singapore.
“The close cooperation between MAS and UNDP to leverage Cultiv@ate, BSB and APIX will make technology and financial services more accessible to parts of the regional and global economy and bring about more inclusive growth,”
said Sopnendu Mohanty, Chief FinTech Officer, MAS.