SFE is an inclusive and structured programme run on a digital portal operated by Proxtera  , which provides a global platform to link domestic SME ecosystems and catalyse cross border trade, financing, and digital services. The other key entities supporting the SFE are the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS) and the Global FinTech Institute (GFI). In 2022, the SFE aims to assist MSMEs in three key areas – Essential Financial Digital Skillset, MSME Financial Services, and Digital Economy Access & Growth. The first tranche of the programme will comprise two learning modules focused on essential financial digital skillsets –
(a) Foundational Financial Literacy which covers basic financial concepts and financial products essential for MSMEs.
(b) Global Financial Literacy equips MSMEs with knowledge to connect to the digital economy and expand internationally by leveraging networks, financial services, fintech solutions and digital tools.
Further learning modules will be released in future tranches. Upon completion of each module, businesses will receive a digitally verifiable certificate issued by SUSS and GFI, that grants access to financial services tools and knowledge services through a resource hub.
The SFE learning modules incorporate best practices on key financial literacy and financing topics, benefitting from the programme sponsors, Ant Group, Digital Pilipinas, Globe Telecom, Validus and Visa as well as from a wider ecosystem of community partners including Bolttech, Coface, Consolidated Bank of Ghana, Development Bank Ghana  , and Philippines Department of Trade and Industry Philippine Trade Training Center.
The SFE builds on an earlier MOU between MAS and IFC on the Financial Trust Corridor (FTC) initiative to drive wider financial knowledge sharing, financial trust building and financial inclusion for MSMEs and financial institutions in developing markets. The FTC comprises a multi-party cross-border governance framework and trusted closed loop digital infrastructure, which governments and financial institutions from different countries can utilise to share verified information on foreign business counterparties and their supporting financial institutions. This information will help businesses involved in cross-border trade obtain easier access to financing.
Sopnendu Mohanty, Chief FinTech Officer of MAS, said, “An empowered MSME is essential to an equitable and sustainable digital economy. Such enablement begins with digital economy literacy. The affordable, bite-sized learning programme provided by SFE is a collaborative effort involving financial institutions, and public and private sectors. Through the foundational and global financial literacy modules, MSMEs in Asia and Africa will benefit from new skills to leverage networks, financial and digital tools to grow their business internationally.”
Qamar Saleem, Regional Industry Manger, Financial Institutions Group Advisory Services, Asia and Pacific at IFC, shared, “We are delighted to partner with MAS and UNDP for this impactful initiative, which has the potential to improve the livelihoods of thousands of small business owners in emerging markets. Empowering MSMEs with financial literacy and digital skillsets will help to level the playing field for smaller businesses, ultimately helping to address financing gaps and improving financial inclusion. Our team in Singapore will also play a vital role in maximizing the impact of this program through its extensive knowledge and decades of experience in implementing best practice and strengthening the processes and resources of MSMEs in emerging markets around the world. We look forward to leveraging our expertise to build a better future for MSMEs in Asia and Africa.”