Small to medium enterprises (SMEs) drive economic growth in emerging and frontier markets. SMEs make significant contributions to decreased poverty, increased employment, the diversification of products and services, and the creation of market linkages for small-scale producers and other suppliers. At the national level, and as part of the formal economy, SMEs contribute to national GDP and tax base, allowing benefits to be shared beyond their immediate circle of employees, consumers, and suppliers.
Investment capital is the necessary fuel that enables SMEs to flourish. MEDA works with partners (investors, donors, government and development agencies, and local technical support providers), to strengthen companies that are committed to progressive business strategies and promise an excellent return on investment. MEDA is equally dedicated to the advancement of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) practices and policies within the SMEs and investment partners we work with. With over 60 years of private sector and development experience, MEDA is well-equipped to ensure the benefits of investment are closely aligned with the development goals of our partners.
While Development Finance Institutions have played a key role in financing many SMEs, these enterprises still face challenges in accessing sufficient growth capital. In order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, set out by the United Nations, private investors will need to step up to close the annual USD $2.5 trillion development investment gap. Both investment capital and technical assistance are essential to enable SMEs to grow in a way that meets development goals. MEDA’s long history in blended finance and impact investment, beginning with investing in the Paraguayan Sarona Dairy in 1953, has created an established suite of investment capabilities and approaches:
- Investment Mechanisms: MEDA is well positioned to offer distinctive catalytic financial mechanisms through our own Sarona Risk Capital Fund (SRCF), collaboration with private equity and asset management firms, and blended finance partnerships with donor governments and philanthropic foundations.
- ESG Facilitation: Integrating environment, social, and governance (ESG) into SME practices and policies can be a challenge in emerging and frontier markets, but SME managers are often eager to improve performance if the appropriate support is available. In the same way, investors are increasingly looking to place capital in SMEs that clearly demonstrate ESG outcomes. MEDA provides expertise to assist companies in advancing their ESG capacities, including innovative approaches such as competitive social innovation grants.
- Enhanced Monitoring and Impact Measurement: Aligned with the GIIN, IRIS, GIIRS and B-Corp, MEDA offers expertise in enhanced monitoring and evaluation systems (EMES) for SMEs. Our EMES system goes beyond output measurement to ensure that impact on the ground is captured. If an environmental policy is in place, for example, we offer a system that will track the implementation and achievement of positive environmental outcomes such as the conservation of resources and waste management.
- Technical Assistance Support: Technical assistance can relate to business development, supply chain strengthening and the advancement of an entire sector. MEDA’s development expertise ranges across sectors including microfinance and financial services, agriculture, manufacturing – to ensure our technical knowledge is responsive to the needs of SMEs and their respective sectors.