On December 14th 2011, the Finance Alliance for Sustainable Trade (FAST) held the first FAST Global Forum at the Auditorium of the Rabobank headquarters in Utrecht, the Netherlands. With 135 participants in attendance, the forum brought together representatives from around the world including impact investors, multilateral banks, certification agencies, development institutions, and government.
The event began with a welcome address from Ben Witjes, Director Programs and Projects of HIVOS and Olaf Brugman, Senior manager Sustainability of Rabobank Nederland. An inspiring keynote address was delivered by Mr. André Laude, Chief Investment Officer, IFC – Western Europe, who emphasized the importance of SME finance to ensure food security and reduce climate change.
Drawing on the knowledge of more than 30 expert panelists from around the world, including representatives from the IFC, OECD, MIX Market, Calvert Foundation, OXFAM, WWF and many more, the Global Forum focused on building new opportunities for improving metrics and information systems to strengthen the sustainable SME finance sector. The Forum was also a seedbed for identifying and implementing new initiatives related to emerging trends in sustainable SME finance and impact investment.
“It is clear that work in partnerships is a part of the key elements that will drive the growth of SME finance. The experience and background of 135 experienced players in this field participating in the Forum, will certainly accelerate the creation of collaborative efforts towards the achievement of common goals” expressed Noemi Perez, Executive Director of FAST.
As part of the forum, FAST launched its “Shared Impact Measurement Toolbox” (SIAMT v 1.0), which provides common benchmark indicators for measuring the social, economic and environmental impacts of sustainable SME finance.
Delegates participated in one of four workshops with a range of key themes that included;
- New financial schemes and innovative tools/practices for sustainable SME finance along the value chain
- Strategies to attract investment in sustainable rural SME Finance
- Opportunities for microfinance institutions and local banks to invest in sustainable SMEs
- FAST Financial Fairs and capacity building for sustainable SMEs
Workshop results and event presentations will be available online shortly.
FAST also hosted its third Annual General Assembly on that same day, the new Board Members of FAST were approved during the General Assembly: Niels van Heeren from Solidaridad and Hugues Tshibemba from Fairtrade Canada.
The new Executive Committee of FAST was announced during the event: Christina Conrad from Calvert Foundation as President, Niels van Heeren from Solidaridad as Vice-president, Saul Castro from Alterfin as Treasurer and Francisco Pompilio Sanabria continues as the Secretary .