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Jun 29, 2017

A New Way to Finance Green Small Businesses

The majority of businesses are micro, small and medium enterprises, known as MSME’s. These businesses help drive the engine of an economy and provide jobs especially at the start-up level. But while they may prove innovative and creative in their ways of thinking, they often suffer from general lack of access to financing and especially in the area of adapting to climate change and making use of renewable energy sources such as solar power. So whether it is irrigating a farm, keeping the lights on, or selling such products, there is a market for what is called “green finance,” and the Inter-American Development Bank is soliciting the support of its Caribbean partners for such a program. Aaron Humes attended the Belize launch of the EcoMicro program and has this report.

 

Aaron Humes, Reporting

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) believes it has hit on a solution to develop partnerships between micro and small-to-medium enterprises (MSME) and financial institutions in the Caribbean in the area of what it is calling “green finance:” programs offering loans and other financial services for the use of green energy and plans addressing adaptation to climate change.

 

Cassandra Rogers

Dr. Cassandra Rogers, Belize IDB Representative

“Low-income households and eco-friendly tourism properties are generally not able to access clean energy, energy efficiency technologies and adaptation products, largely because their financial providers do not have the appropriate tools and knowledge to develop and offer sustainable green products that will allow the acquisition of mitigation or adaptation technologies. The launch of this green initiative, therefore, is a important step in mobilizing financial institutions in the right direction. The approach, as you will see over the course of the morning, considers the affordability, reliability and commercial viability of technology for the end-user client.”

 

The EcoMicro program has benefited more than six thousand persons in countries from Mexico to Bolivia, about half of which are employees of financial institutions who are trained in capacity building, and its participants have leveraged nearly twenty million U.S. dollars to keep it going. But how exactly does it work? For the answer we turned to program coordinator, Ruth Houliston.

 

Ruth Houliston, Program Coordinator, EcoMicro

“Who has the ability to unlock this challenge – well, it’s the financial institutions; the financial institutions have the liquidity to be able to support the clients; and many of the participants here this morning are on the front line in the communities, working directly with this client base. So we are very excited about the prospect of this innovative program, and the opportunities it represents, not only for the financial institutions to service the communities they work with, but especially the potential that this has to help vulnerable communities in Belize to address climate change.”

 

EcoMicro is a technical cooperation facility: the financial institutions who apply can benefit from up to nearly three hundred thousand U.S. dollars in financing for three components: design and implementation of green finance products; analyzing the impact of climate change on loan portfolios, and reducing financiers’ own environmental impact. It is how, says Houliston, they can help themselves to help you.

 

Ruth Houliston

Ruth Houliston

“And we through this process allow them to design finance products in partnership with key actors, so they could be collaborating with and also benefiting from the program would be agricultural extension providers, technology service providers and otherwise, who form part of the robust ecosystem that’s required to roll out green finance to these beneficiaries.”

 

Aaron Humes reporting for News Five.

 

The call for proposals began on June fifteenth and ends in September.

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