Supply chain finance (SCF) offers high-quality, low-risk financing to the small merchants that tend to be underserved by traditional lenders. These microentrepreneurs often lack the credit data traditional lenders need and are seen as too costly to serve at scale. SCF leverages data generated by businesses when they buy from suppliers and sell to customers, using this information to evaluate the creditworthiness of small merchants. It is a useful tool to expand financial inclusion for the 141 million microenterprises in developing countries and to promote inclusive economic growth globally.
SCF benefits merchants with timely access to credit; it also benefits merchants, suppliers, and fast-moving consumer goods companies (FMCGs) with higher sales, faster turnover, and more efficient operations. Lenders benefit as well: SCF reduces risk and costs, allowing financial service providers (FSPs) to cater to new markets.
We believe that platform-based models, those that consolidate data produced by the movement of money and goods in the supply chain, are best suited to deliver SCF. Platform-based SCF models can satisfy the interdependent needs of multiple stakeholders simultaneously and facilitate coordinated decision-making. FSPs and FMCGs are well positioned to develop SCF platforms.
This brief discusses how SCF platforms can help small merchants, FMCGs, suppliers, and FSPs realize their economic potential. For institutions interested in developing an SCF solution, access our recent in-depth guide and playbook, How digitized supply chain finance can help small merchants grow.
Small merchants such as grocery shops, corner stores, and other micro-retailers employ more than half of the world’s labor force and contribute significantly to global GDP. These merchants rely on personal savings, family and friends, and sometimes personal credit to meet cash flow needs, but collectively these businesses face an $8.1 trillion credit gap, creating a significant barrier to inclusive growth. This global credit gap is almost entirely a supply-side problem, as micro, small, and medium entrepreneurs’ (MSMEs’) demand for financing is significant. Serving this market is challenging for lenders. Small merchants have little to no business documentation, are often unable to provide high-quality collateral, operate primarily in cash, and require loan sizes that are not always worth the operational cost of serving them, making it difficult to assess credit risk and sustainably offer products that meet small merchants’ needs.
By addressing this problem and helping MSMEs obtain the financing they need when they need it, we help microentrepreneurs restock their shelves, expand operations, and hire more employees. By addressing this credit gap, we can help more people around the world realize their economic potential.