Financing the Missing Middle in Southeast Asia

ASEAN CSR Network (ACN) and its project partner, AVPN, shared the findings of a recent piece of research about MSMEs in ASEAN, covering the level of support available to them with regards to access to finance, technical support and an enabling environment. The findings were presented to participants at the breakout session on Financing the Missing Middle in Southeast Asia of the AVPN Conference 2018 on 6 June 2018, making up mainly of impact investors and social entrepreneurs. A key finding of the research was the 'missing middle' phenomenon, where MSMEs in early- to growth-stage remain underserved by financiers. They typically exceed upper thresholds for smaller loans such as microfinance, and yet are perceived by financial institutions to be risky and costly customers.

Panellists from the sector were invited to share their thoughts about ways in which mainstream and alternative financing mechanisms – from bank loans, venture capital, private equity to social investment - can effectively fill the ‘missing middle’, especially as a mechanism to promote responsible and inclusive enterprises in ASEAN. The panelists included Peter Brimble (Team Leader, The DaNa Facility, DFID), Claire Dufour (Executive Director, Nexus for Development), Valencia Dea (Principal, Angel Investment Network Indonesia), Ganesha Lubis (Section Head, Coordinating Ministry of Economic Affairs, Indonesia) and Shweta Shukla (Director Communications, External Affairs & Sustainability, Unilever).