CFC provided a platform to discuss SME financing opportunities provided by the fund
The Common Fund for Commodities (CFC) today hosted a briefing to provide an overview of the challenges of financing commodity value chains and how financing opportunities offered by the CFC for SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises) in the agricultural sector could help overcome these challenges. This briefing meeting aimed to increase awareness and understanding of these opportunities among embassies, trade promotion and business representatives based in the Netherlands and Belgium.
Following introductory remarks by Amb. Sheikh Mohammed Belal, Managing Director of CFC on commodity problem experiences at grassroot level, welcoming all to this in person briefing, in his words, on how to serve the people “you left behind”. Ambassador Belal also thanked Excellency Mirjam Blaak and Excellency Pontšo Susan Matumelo Sekatle of Uganda and Lesotho, respectively, for their in-person presence to inspire our younger colleagues.
The idea of a briefing for Attaches in the agricultural sector came from the Government of India and for which, Ambassador Belal registered our gratitude on behalf of all attendees. Mr. Andrey Kuleshov, Chief of Strategy and Development, and Mr. Nicolaus Cromme, Chief Operations Officer, briefed the participants on the current financing instruments at the disposal of the CFC, and further discussed future opportunities the CFC is exploring to serve SMEs in member countries. They encouraged countries to continue to disseminate the information on our “call for proposals” with their respective chambers, businesses and government agencies so that more businesses can apply for more investments and resultant impacts in their respective country. Elaborating on the methodology of a successful application, the CFC secretariat also urged member states to consider more innovative way of supporting the SMEs and smallholders in their countries in the form of “sovereign guarantees”. As prevailing guarantee schemes virtually keep the SMEs and smallholders out of the system as they are meant for bigger size businesses.
The recurrent theme of the discussion was how we should try to enhance and increase our activism in the sphere of alleviation of poverty to bring more finance and understanding as more and more people are being dragged back to poverty because of the ongoing war in Ukraine and resultant appreciation of the currency of the United States. Accordingly, the CFC urged all member states, whether from developing or the developed world, to come together to do more for the poverty stricken people around the world.
During the discussion, attendees shared experiences and insights on SME financing in commodity value chains from different countries and sectors. Further deliberations regarded the eligibility criteria and application procedures for accessing financing from the CFC, but also considering access to finance in general for commodity dependent developing countries.
The meeting was well attended by representatives of various member countries as well as Dutch enterprises.