Jakarta, May 21, 2024 – Amartha, an Indonesian microlending platform founded in 2010, together with partner institutions Women’s World Banking, SME Finance Forum, and Accion, are holding The 2024 Asia Grassroots Forum, hosted by Amartha. The inaugural global two-day forum (May 21-22) gathers investors, entrepreneurs, innovators, and policymakers to unlock the transformative potential of Asia’s grassroots economies. By fostering innovation in tech and finance, the forum aims to empower a more resilient global community and dive deeper into impact investing.

Micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) thrive across Asia, particularly in Southeast Asia, home to millions of MSMEs, accounting for up to 40% of the region’s economy. Notably, microbusinesses represent up to 94% of MSMEs, playing a pivotal role as an economic engine, particularly in countries like Indonesia.

Despite their significant contribution, 90% of micro merchants in Southeast Asia encounter barriers such as limited credit access, challenges in securing loans due to insufficient collateral and credit history, and low financial digital literacy, particularly in rural areas. Against this backdrop, fintech players like Amartha, have been playing a key role in providing accessible services to underserved communities, with a larger proportion of microenterprise, compared to medium-sized ones, borrowing from fintech lending services.

“For 14 years, Amartha has thrived by harnessing the immense, yet often overlooked, potential of the grassroots economy. Our strong financial performance, including three consecutive years of profitability, is a testament to this potential. We invite all stakeholders in the region, and globally, to join us in exploring and empowering this vital sector. This forum aims to be the catalyst for collaboration, gathering diverse tech and finance players in the grassroots economy. Together, we can build a more resilient society equipped to face global challenges,” said Andi Taufan Garuda Putra, CEO and Founder of Amartha.

“Today I would like to invite everyone to join forces, across borders and backgrounds, to collaborate on a shared agenda: scaling impact, digitising MSMEs and fostering inclusive economic growth for the prosperity of our communities,” Taufan added.

The drive towards financial inclusion also coincides with the rise of impact investments in the region. Southeast Asia and in particular Indonesia have become popular impact investment spots, allowing global investors and institutions to diversify their portfolios in growing markets while making a social impact. In 2020-2022, impact investors have committed more than 67% of the total capital that was invested in the entire 10-year period from 2007-2016 in Southeast Asia, showcasing the acceleration of impact investment activity in the region.

The 2024 Asia Grassroots Forum, hosted by Amartha will tackle how innovative financing, like impact investing and social entrepreneurship, can unlock billion-dollar opportunities for ASEAN’s base-of-pyramid businesses. Sessions will address the unique challenges of these markets and explore how investors can effectively measure and scale social and environmental impact alongside financial returns.

“Financial services are powerful tools to help reduce poverty and create opportunity. With responsible and secure digital services, micro-entrepreneurs can make informed choices and build more resilient businesses. We’re thrilled to continue our impactful partnership with Amartha by collaborating on this inaugural event to drive inclusive growth for the grassroots economy across ASEAN, building on our success in Indonesia,” said Michael Schlein, President and CEO of Accion.

Christina Juhasz, Chief Investment Officer of Women’s World Banking Asset Management (WAM) stated, “The underrepresentation of women in ASEAN entrepreneurship is a truly missed opportunity. The 2024 Asia Grassroots Forum, hosted by Amartha provides a valuable platform for collaboration with diverse stakeholders. Together, we are able to discuss how to develop innovative strategies to address the specific challenges faced by women-led SMEs, unlocking their full potential to drive economic growth.”

Qamar Saleem, Global Head SME Finance Forum, emphasized the necessity for a collaborative effort within the financial industry to develop innovative financial products tailored specifically to the needs of women-led businesses. He said, “At SME Finance Forum, we firmly believe that scaling these initiatives is socially impactful and financially sound. We are enthusiastic about the Asia Grassroots Forum as it serves as a platform to realize this collective objective. We are committed to partnering with our members, scaling their initiatives, and celebrating their successes.”

Taufan concluded, “The 2024 Asia Grassroots Forum, hosted by Amartha aspires to drive prosperity, empowering the underserved grassroots segment and generating widespread positive impact. Looking ahead, we envision this platform evolving into the leading beacon for Asia’s grassroots economic empowerment in the years to come.”

To participate online in The 2024 Asia Grassroots Forum, hosted by Amartha, please visit Amartha’s official YouTube channel and get the latest insight on how we can embrace the grassroots economy in Southeast Asia.

About Amartha

Amartha is a microfinance technology platform, dedicated to providing affordable and flexible working capital loans to women-led micro and SMEs in rural Indonesia through a collaborative group lending model. By specifically targeting segments considered too small and remote for conventional banking systems, Amartha has become a pivotal force in supporting these underserved communities. Originally established as a traditional microfinance institution in 2010, Amartha successfully transitioned into a microfinance technology platform in 2016. Today, it stands as a leading digital financial service provider in Indonesia, specialising in a diverse range of financial solutions for the “bottom of the pyramid” segment. Having dispersed over US$1.5 billion in working capital to more than 2.5 million women-led Micro and Small Enterprises across 72,000 villages in Indonesia, Amartha’s impactful reach continues to grow. Explore further at www.amartha.com.

About Accion

Accion is a global nonprofit on a mission to create a fair and inclusive economy for the nearly two billion people who are failed by the global financial system. We develop and scale responsible digital financial solutions for small business owners, smallholder farmers, and women, so they can make informed decisions and improve their lives. Through targeted investment strategies, advisory solutions, and expert thought leadership, we work with local partners to develop and scale cheaper, more accessible, and customer-friendly financial solutions. Since 1961, Accion has helped build more than 230 financial service providers serving low-income clients in 75 countries, reaching more than 350 million people. More at www.accion.org.

About SME Finance Forum

The SME Finance Forum, backed by G20 and IFC/World Bank, is the leading global network of 300+ members/affiliates operating in 190 countries. Network comprises of SME focused institutions providing and enabling finance and services- banks, non-banks financial institutions, fintech, payment platforms, development institutions, credit guarantee companies, insurers, investment funds, supply chain linked players, banking and SME associations, policy advocates, regulators, academia, consulting houses, knowledge aggregators.

Our members, affiliates, and associated stakeholders benefit from learning/replicating best practices from across the world, innovating new products for business growth, acquiring risk mitigation tools, establishing partnerships, attracting investors, and being recognized amongst a peer group of global innovators. Our products consist of “members only” solutions (like innovation hubs, solutions clinics, peer group networks, study tours, specialized tools and trainings, member portal repository, partnered initiatives) as well as public good services (200+ publications library, 500+ videos, webinars, newsletters, trainings, annual awards, annual event etc.).

More at: https://www.smefinanceforum.org/

About Women’s World Banking

For over 45 years, Women’s World Banking has been dedicated to serving the nearly 1 billion women excluded by the formal financial sector. As an NGO, we partner with financial institutions and policymakers to design, develop and implement solutions and programs that facilitate systemic change for women. As an investor, we advance women in the workplace and as customers through direct equity – to bring them security, prosperity, and independence. Since 2018 Women’s World Banking has reached more than 37 million women helping to change not only their lives but also of their households, communities, and countries.

It is our core belief that financial inclusion is essential in the path to women’s economic empowerment. We know that low-income women are disproportionately impacted by the effects of systemic shocks including climate change. We have made it our mission to accelerate access and usage of financial solutions and to build women’s capabilities. We are addressing systemic and algorithmic biases that disadvantage women, by building the evidence base through proprietary research. We work towards eliminating discriminatory laws and practices by advocating to key decision makers and leaders for inclusive regulation and governance. We recognize the potential of women across the globe, and it is our evidenced belief that equal representation drives social and business outcomes and economic growth.

Learn more about how we make finance work for women: www.womensworldbanking.org

Media Contact

The Hoffman Agency at AmarthaSEA@hoffman.com

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