Unfinished Business: The Impacts of Small Business Finance 


20 May 2021 9:00 am - 10:30 am EDT
This event has concluded.

Millions upon millions of poor households in emerging markets depend on micro and small enterprises (MSEs) for their livelihoods. Traditionally, the global development community has viewed finance as a tool to help small entrepreneurs grow their businesses and increase their incomes. However, recent research has cast doubt on this assumption. Over the past decade, it has become increasingly clear that when an MSE leverages financing to turbocharge its growth and increase profitability, it is the exception, not the rule.

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So does this mean that MSE finance is not impactful? In reviewing the global literature, CGAP has identified significant gaps in the research: limitations on the questions asked, methods deployed, and geographies and business models studied. In this webinar, experts from CGAP, CFI, Financial Access Initiative, Ohio State University, and The World Bank discussed these knowledge gaps, whether unidentified impacts may be hiding within them, and what this means for future research and efforts to support the livelihoods of people in emerging markets.

Webinar Resources

Webinar Presentation >>

CGAP Blog: Opening Pandora’s Box: Revisiting the Impact of Small Business Finance>>

CGAP Slide Deck: Micro and Small Enterprise Finance: Examining the Impact Narrative >>

CGAP Leadership Essay: Beyond Access and Usage: Financial Services for Livelihoods >>



Alexander Sotiriou

Alexander Sotiriou, Senior Financial Sector Specialist | CGAP
Alexander Sotiriou leads CGAP’s research on MSE finance in the digital age. His work focuses on exploring the linkages between access to finance for micro and small enterprises, improved livelihoods, and access to basic services. Previously, he managed a portfolio of investments in microfinance and SME finance lenders in Latin America at MicroVest. As an associate in Citi’s Johannesburg and Mexico City offices, he also developed corporate and project finance solutions for corporations and governments across Africa and in Mexico. He has also worked as an analyst for a private equity fund in Mexico.

Sai Krishna Kumaraswamy

Sai Krishna Kumaraswamy, Financial Sector Analyst | CGAP
Sai Krishna Kumaraswamy leads CGAP’s work to redefine the MSE finance impact narrative and co-leads primary research with MSEs in three countries.  Previously at the World Bank Group, he worked as a researcher for the Gender Group and as financial analyst at the Global Infrastructure Facility. Sai Krishna is a chartered accountant from India with eight years of experience providing audit, advisory, and consulting services to clients in the financial services, energy, infrastructure, technology, and government sectors.


Robert Cull

Robert Cull, Lead Economist | World Bank
Robert Cull is research manager and lead economist on the Finance and Private Sector Development Team within the World Bank's Development Research Group. He was co-director of the “World Development Report 2021: Data for Better Lives.” His research interests include the performance of microfinance institutions, African financial development, Chinese financial development and firm performance, and the design and use of household surveys to measure access to financial services. He has published more than thirty articles in peer-reviewed academic journals.

Claudio González-Vega

Claudio González-Vega, Professor Emeritus | Ohio State University
Claudio González-Vega is professor emeritus of agricultural, environmental, and development economics at Ohio State University. His research interests include rural finance and microfinance, primarily in Mexico, Central America, and the Andes. He has published extensively on the role of formal and informal finance in reaching marginal clienteles such as women, microenterprises, and small farmers; the political economy of policy formation and role of the state in financial markets; and the design of prudential regulation and supervision. He has also been a member of the Board of Trustees of the BBVA Microfinance Foundation for the past 12 years, of which he was Chairman from 2015-18.

Mayada El-Zoghbi

Mayada El-Zoghbi, Managing Director | CFI
Mayada El-Zoghbi is leading expert in financial inclusion with more than 20 years of experience. She currently serves as the managing director of the Center for Financial Inclusion at Accion. Previously, Mayada led CGAP’s strategy, research, and development unit, focused on women’s financial inclusion, financial services in crisis environments and other emerging topics. She also managed CGAP’s work with the donor and investor community based in Paris.

Timothy Ogden

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. He also serves as the managing director of the US Financial Diaries project. He is a co-founder of Sona Partners, a thought leadership communications firm. He has developed, written, and edited more than 20 books on topics including leadership, marketing, operations, finance and international aid and development.