Empowering Inclusive Economy with Data-Driven Lending

Qena, [Date] – The National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE), in collaboration with the International Financial Corporation (IFC), Financial Sector Deepening-Ethiopia (FSD-Ethiopia), Kifiya Financial Technology, and the Mastercard Foundation, recently organized the second edition of the knowledge series event titled “Data-Driven MSME Digital Lending for an Inclusive Economy.” The event, held on May 3, 2023, brought together key stakeholders and experts in the financial sector, and offered valuable insights into the potential of digital lending to drive financial inclusion and economic growth in Ethiopia.

The event, which was open to invited guests, also provided a live streaming option for remote participants, attracting a total of 240 attendees. The conference commenced with welcoming remarks from the Master of Ceremony at 9:00 AM, accompanied by an inspirational video. Mr. Munir Duri, CEO of Kifiya Financial Technology, delivered a compelling speech, emphasizing the importance of democratizing knowledge to level the playing field for stakeholders and enhance the sector’s growth.

The keynote speech was delivered by Mr. Samuel Yalew, Country Director of the Mastercard Foundation. He discussed the foundation’s commitment to providing affordable access to financial services for enterprises, ultimately driving job creation on a large scale. The foundation collaborates with the private sector, mandated institutions, civil society organizations, and young people to support solutions that foster an enabling environment aligned with Ethiopia’s priorities.

H.E. Mr. Solomon Desta, Vice Governor of NBE, set the stage for the event with a speech urging financial institutions to recognize the developmental and sustainable business perspectives of providing credit to micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) and smallholder farmers (SHFs). Mr. Solomon Damtew, Payment Settlement System Director at NBE, presented NBE’s Strategy for Financial Inclusive Economy, shedding light on the institution’s plans and initiatives.


The knowledge series consisted of three sessions, each covering important aspects of digital lending and financial inclusion. The first session, titled “Benchmarking Experiences from Similar Markets in Africa,” was led by the IFC team, featuring Mr. Aulio Maiga, Ms. Paula Maria Leynes Felipe, and Mr. Riadh Naouar. The session, moderated by Sewit H/Selassie from UNCDF, explored successful experiences from other African markets where digital technology has enabled MSMEs and SHFs to access financial services. The panelists shared valuable insights and lessons that Ethiopia could learn from these experiences.


The second session, a fireside chat, was moderated by Mr. Kinfemichael Yibkaw, DFS and Agri-Finance Expert at IFC. The chat featured Mr. Hartnel K. M. Ndungi, Chief Data Officer at Absa Bank Kenya, who shared his experiences and presented case studies on expanding financial services to MSMEs and smallholder farmers. The interactive session provided the audience with valuable insights into the potential of digital technology to improve financial inclusion and access to credit for underserved segments of the economy.


The third session focused on the Ethiopian case study and was presented by Mr. Deribie Asfaw, President of the Cooperative Bank of Oromia, and moderated by Abel Tadesse, Digital Financial Service Lead at FSD-Ethiopia. Mr. Asfaw shared insights, successes, and challenges related to the Cooperative Bank of Oromia’s digital lending product, Michu, which has provided over 1 billion loans to individuals, MSMEs, and smallholder farmers. The session highlighted the potential of digital lending platforms to expand financial services to underserved segments of the economy and addressed the challenges that need to be overcome for these platforms to be more effective.

The knowledge series event provided valuable insights into the potential of digital lending, collaboration among stakeholders, and the importance of an enabling environment for MSMEs and Small holder farmers to access financial services. The event served as a platform for thought leaders to exchange knowledge, share best practices, and discuss case studies from successful digital lending solutions in Africa. The discussions held during the event are expected to lead to concrete actions to promote financial inclusion and economic growth in Ethiopia.

As Ethiopia continues its journey towards financial inclusion and digital transformation, ongoing engagement and collaboration among stakeholders, sustained investment in digital technology, and a commitment to promoting financial inclusion will be crucial in driving inclusive economic growth in the country.

The 2nd Qena Knowledge series had the attendance of industry leaders, financial sector representatives, key development partners, and esteemed members of the government.

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