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Development Account Projects

Promoting inclusive finance through development banking innovation practices to support social, productive development and structural change in Latin American countries, with a particular focus on small and medium-sized enterprises

Background:

In the publication entitled Time for equality: closing gaps, opening trails (2010), ECLAC laid the groundwork for a development agenda based on equality as a strategic development goal. This agenda was deepened and broadened in a follow-up publication, entitled Structural change for equality: an integrated approach to development (2012), which argued that achieving greater levels of equality required putting qualitative changes in the production structure at the centre of the growth dynamic.

Designing and constructing inclusive and production-oriented financial systems can play an important role in this development agenda. To that end, the countries of the region require strong public institutions, together with prudent and countercyclical regulations. A key element is the strengthening of public development banking institutions in the region to foster financial inclusion through new and innovative practices and instruments. Financial inclusion refers to the efforts and initiatives oriented to (a) grant access to financial services by those segments of the population that are not part of the formal financial system and (b) improve and perfect the use of the financial system for those that are already part of the formal financial system.

Financial inclusion remains a pending task in Latin America. In the case of small and medium-sized enterprises, the financial system is used mainly for deposits and means of payments rather than as a vehicle to foster investment and develop their productive potential. National development banks can play an important role in filling this gap by promoting financial inclusion. Promoting the internal mobilization of funds and financial inclusion requires a set of economic and financial policies to develop financial markets and the development of new instruments for small and medium-sized enterprises, since they are key players within the productive fabric and in terms of job creation.

National development banks can play an important role in promoting and expanding financial inclusion through three channels: innovation in financial products; innovation in financial processes; and the strengthening of interconnectivity with the rest of the financial system, including commercial banks. Fulfilling the project’s objectives requires including and addressing both the innovation in financial products and financial processes as important channels for promoting financial access and inclusiveness. Expanding and promoting the role of development banks is also part of the agenda proposed in the outcome document of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), “The future we want”, where the need is recognized for significant mobilization of resources for sustainable development (General Assembly resolution 66/288, para. 54) by strengthening national, regional and subregional development banks.

Hence, the objective and scope of the project will focus on the need to foster the development of a wider array of financial instruments that will permit development banks to play a more active and visible role in promoting financial inclusion, particularly focused on the small and medium-sized enterprise sector of the economy. Placing the focus on small and medium-sized enterprise development is fundamental for Latin America and the Caribbean since these firms are key players within the productive fabric and in terms of job creation. In implementing this project ECLAC will collaborate with ESCAP to share and compare best practices of development banking in Asia and Latin America, and with the Department of Economic and Social Affairs on inclusive finance and the role of development banks.

Objective:

To support national development banks of Latin American countries to strengthen inclusiveness of public financial systems and to promote productive development with a particular focus on small and medium-sized enterprises

Expected accomplishments:

  • Strengthened public financial policies to promote financial inclusion of small and medium-sized enterprises
  • Improved financial instruments by Latin American and Caribbean development banking systems to mobilize resources for productive development

Implementation status:

In progress.