Media Releases
Published Date: 08 December 2020

UNDP and MAS announce partnership to help SMEs in developing countries to access global opportunities

Singapore, 8 December 2020… The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Global Centre for Technology, Innovation and Sustainable Development and the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) have signed a partnership agreement to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) leverage technology to better access global value chains.

2   The partnership will provide SMEs with innovative financial and digital tools to help them better leverage data and more effectively access financing solutions. It will also create new opportunities for SMEs, including FinTechs, to expand to developing countries within the UNDP’s global network of 170 offices.     

3   This partnership will start by bringing together three successful programmes from UNDP and MAS, namely Cultiv@te, Business sans Borders and API Exchange. Cultiv@te is UNDP’s innovative agri-tech programme that sources for new solutions from startups and R&D teams worldwide. Business sans Borders (BSB) is a joint initiative by MAS and Infocomm Media Development Authority to provide an open and global digital infrastructure for seamless trade discovery and digital business services connectivity.  API Exchange (APIX) is an MAS-supported cross-border, open innovation API platform which acts as a curated global marketplace for financial institutions and FinTechs.

4   SMEs play a critical role in the global economy, especially in developing countries. Yet these companies face significant challenges to access financing to support their growth. This problem has been further exacerbated by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.  The partnership between MAS and UNDP will help in three areas:

a. Facilitate global outreach by SMEs: Cutting edge solutions by Cultiv@te’s finalists would be listed on the BSB hub for wider adoption by marketplaces and SMEs across UNDP’s focused countries. For example Cultiv@ate solutions, through BSB, could be taken up by smallholder farmers in a developing country to improve their crop yield. The farmer can also sell the crops to a global market on the platform and leverage on the financial tools on BSB to obtain faster and wider access to financing.

b. Access to innovative financial and digital tools: UNDP and MAS will explore country-specific ‘use cases’ in Africa to accelerate the adoption of digital finance by SMEs.  In particular identified SMEs would be able to access the APIX platform and its financial sector APIs to test and develop integrated financing solutions for trade, climate resilience, urban farming and more.

c. Better access to global value chains: UNDP and MAS will pilot the use of blockchain technology to enhance product identification, validation and traceability in traditional supply chains such as agriculture and food products. This would provide greater credibility to international buyers and open up greater opportunities for SMEs. The project will build upon UNDP’s studies on blockchain applications for food traceability.

5   Where it makes sense, UNDP will also connect its various innovation efforts to the BSB hub Sandbox – a growing repository of data and problem statements – to help innovators design and develop solutions to improve services for SMEs.

6   “SMEs drive growth in the developing world, and strong, digitally-linked SMEs are crucial to the world’s recovery from the pandemic. We are thrilled to partner with MAS to help prototype and scale innovative financial solutions across the developing world,” said Bradley Busetto, Director of the UNDP Global Centre Singapore.

7   “We are delighted to work with UNDP to address crucial issues that SMEs face. SMEs will play an important role in restoring growth in the broader economy impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Advancements in technology have paved the way for the purposeful integration of financial services solutions across sectors, such as FinTech powering agri-trades. The close cooperation between MAS and UNDP to leverage Cultiv@ate, BSB and APIX will make technology and financial services more accessible to parts of the regional and global economy and bring about more inclusive growth,” said Sopnendu Mohanty, Chief FinTech Officer, MAS.

About UNDP

UNDP partners with people at all levels of society to help build nations that can withstand crisis, and drive and sustain the kind of growth that improves the quality of life for everyone. On the ground in nearly 170 countries and territories, we offer global perspective and local insight to help empower lives and build resilient nations.

About UNDP Cultivate

Cultiv@te was launched in November 2019 to address challenges in agriculture and find innovative solutions from startups and R&D teams from around the world. The programme has selected 31 finalists to work with 11 countries across Asia, Africa and Latin America. The finalists’ solutions range from integrated agritech/crowd sourced FinTechs to satellite-powered credit analytics.

About Monetary Authority of Singapore

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) is Singapore’s central bank and integrated financial regulator. As a central bank, MAS promotes sustained, non-inflationary economic growth through the conduct of monetary policy and close macroeconomic surveillance and analysis. It manages Singapore’s exchange rate, official foreign reserves, and liquidity in the banking sector. As an integrated financial supervisor, MAS fosters a sound financial services sector through its prudential oversight of all financial institutions in Singapore – banks, insurers, capital market intermediaries, financial advisors, and stock exchanges. It is also responsible for well-functioning financial markets, sound conduct, and investor education. MAS also works with the financial industry to promote Singapore as a dynamic international financial centre. It facilitates the development of infrastructure, adoption of technology, and upgrading of skills in the financial industry.