Slicing the Small Business Pie: Opportunities and Challenges in Segmenting MSEs


29 March 2023 9:00 am - 10:15 am EDT
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The USD 4.9 trillion MSE finance gap is large and persistent despite decades of effort by the international development community. Among a myriad of other reasons, this is driven in no small part by a tendency among financial service providers and funders to consider MSEs as a monolith. In reality, however, the nearly half a billion MSEs in emerging markets are a diverse universe of firms varying in size, sector, ownership, entrepreneurial goals and journey, digital readiness, and financial attitudes and behaviors. 

CGAP’s Focus Note advocates the importance of segmentation of Micro and Small Enterprises (MSEs) for designing relevant financial services and targeted support mechanisms, and identifies five salient dimensions of segmentation – firm size, sector of operation, entrepreneur’s mindset, entrepreneur’s gender, and growth stage of the enterprise. However, in practice, effective segmentation is often challenged by the lack of data, analytical capabilities, organizational incentives, and analytical frameworks to identify relevant segments. 

In this webinar, CGAP moderated a roundtable discussion on the opportunities and challenges in effective segmentation amongst a range of stakeholders from the MSE finance ecosystem including incumbent and fintech providers, funders, and researchers.  

Download the presentation.


Timothy Ogden

Managing Director, Financial Access Initiative

Timothy Ogden is Managing Director of the Financial Access Initiative, a research initiative exploring how financial services can better meet the needs and improve the lives of poor households. His previous work experience encompasses the private and nonprofit sectors. Prior to joining FAI he was the Chief Knowledge Officer at Geneva Global, Inc., an international philanthropy advisory company, and founding editor of Gartner Press. He founded and currently leads Sona Partners, a thought leadership communications firm, where he has helped develop more than 20 books for major publishers. Tim is co-author of Toyota Under Fire, and author of Experimental Conversations, a collection of interviews with economists conducting field experiments on poverty alleviation interventions. He also serves as chairman of GiveWell and is a senior fellow of the Aspen Institute’s Economic Opportunities Program and Financial Security Program.


Amee Parbhoo

Managing Partner, Accion Venture Lab

Amee Parbhoo is Managing Partner of Accion Venture Lab, Accion’s seed-stage impact investment initiative in fintech for the underserved. Venture Lab invests capital in, and provides support to, innovative fintech startups that increase access to, improve the quality of, or reduce the cost of financial services for the underserved at scale. In her current role, Amee drives Venture Lab’s strategy and growth and oversees its investment work and portfolio engagement services.

Evelyn Wangari

Head of Financial Services for East Africa, Copia Global

Evelyn Wangari is the Head of Financial Services for East Africa at Copia Global, a B2C e-commerce platform designed to serve the rapidly growing consumer needs of more than 800 million middle and low-income African households. Previously, Evelyn served as Product Lead for Loans, Savings and Insurance at Airtel Africa in Kenya. For more than a decade, she has driven business capabilities in the financial sector through strategy development, IT transformation and innovation.


Greta Bull

Director of Women's Economic Empowerment, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Greta Bull is Director, Women’s Economic Empowerment at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, where she oversees a portfolio of investments in gender data and evidence, women’s economic collectives, and livelihoods development for poor women. Greta has more than 20 years of experience in development finance, focusing on small and medium enterprise finance, microfinance, digital financial services, payments, and livelihoods, and has previously served as CEO of CGAP (through July 2021), manager of the Financial Institutions Advisory Services at IFC, and as Director of Banking and Finance at DAI Europe.

Greta has a Master’s degree in Public Policy from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and an undergraduate degree in International Studies from the University of Washington.

Sasidhar Thumuluri

Managing Director & CEO, Sub-K IMPACT Solutions

Sasidhar Thumuluri is Managing Director and CEO of Sub-K IMPACT Solutions, an inclusive fintech based in India, offering banking and financial solutions to the underserved. Sasi has over two decades of financial inclusion and capital markets experience in 20+ countries. He started his career at BASIX, an Indian financial inclusion pioneer, and went on to pursue international career in impact investments and business strategy at MicroVest, Habitat for Humanity and International Finance Corporation. He also serves as the board chair of Business Correspondent Federation of India.

Sai Krishna Kumaraswamy

Financial Sector Specialist

Sai Krishna Kumaraswamy is part of CGAP’s policy team and works on digital finance regulation and supervision, financial consumer protection, and policy responses to financial crises. He also serves as CGAP's Asia representative based in Bangkok, where he supports member engagement and partnership development, contributes to regional projects, and works to deepen CGAP's influence in the region. 

Previously, Sai was part of CGAP’s Business Models team for five years, where he worked on digital finance innovations that enabled improved livelihoods and expanded access to essential services for people living in poverty, focusing on micro and small enterprise financing, asset finance, off-grid energy access, and gender-responsive fintech innovation. Before joining CGAP, Sai worked at the Gender Group and the Global Infrastructure Facility of the World Bank, and as an auditor and consultant in India. 

Sai holds a Master’s degree in Development Economics from The Fletcher School at Tufts University, a Master’s degree in Liberal Arts from Ashoka University, and an Undergraduate degree in Accounting, Business and Finance from St. Joseph’s College, Bangalore. He is also a Chartered Accountant. He is fluent in Tamil, Kannada and Hindi.

Swati Sawhney

Senior Financial Sector Specialist

Swati Sawhney has been with CGAP since 2021, based in London. She is currently engaged with CGAP’s work on micro and small enterprise (MSE) finance in the digital age. Swati has worked extensively in the field of access to finance, with global experience across the US, UK, Asia, Africa and Eastern Europe. She was a senior financial sector specialist with the IFC / WBG Finance and Markets Global Practice in South Asia, where she was responsible for leading the development of enabling Financial Infrastructure programs for the South Asia region and MSME financial inclusion work in India. Prior to her work with the IFC, she was a Manager with Ernst & Young’s Business Advisory Services in the UK, where she worked with several private and public sector clients on large change management programs. She has also worked for several years on MSME finance for DAI Europe, with a focus on EBRD programs across Eastern Europe. Prior to that she has experience at Citigroup in the UK, and the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, D.C. Swati holds a Masters in International Strategy and Diplomacy from the London School of Economics, and an earlier Masters in International and Development Economics from Yale University.