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SMEs play a significant role in the advancement of trade, boosting economic growth and reducing poverty.  However, they are frequently unable to operate at an optimal level due to a lack of trade finance loans that would enable them to buy needed materials to fulfill orders or to finance unpaid accounts receivable that can leave small companies hamstrung, and to generally smooth cash flow and pay employees and suppliers faster.

Implemented by Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA) Canada and in collaboration with Sarona Asset Management (Sarona) and the University of Waterloo School of Environment, Enterprise and Development (UW-SEED), the interventions of Trading Up across Africa, Asia and Latin America will address these barriers faced by SMEs through three central components:

  • Sarona Trade Finance Fund (STFF): Established by Sarona Asset Management, the STFF will provide finance to trade finance firms (TFFs) who on-lend to SMEs in countries across the globe;

  • Technical Assistance Component (TAC): Focusing on four countries, MEDA will extend technical assistance to SMEs, Apex Organizations and TFFs on supply chain development, trade finance products and environmental, social and governance (ESG) standards benefiting both women and men. MEDA’s work with Apex organizations will also support broader impact in the SME ecosystem.

  • Enhanced Impact Measurement: MEDA will partner with UW-SEED researchers to set up an enhanced impact measurement system that will track the gender-disaggregated impact on SMEs, employees, small-scale suppliers and households to ensure that impact is being felt at the individual level as a result of investment in the SME sector of the economy.


Project Quick Facts

Goal: That SMEs, women and men employees, and male and female smallholder farmers, along with their households, benefit from strengthened SME sectors that are underpinned by trade finance.

Reach: The creation of 160,000 new jobs for women and men and the connection of 50,000 female and male smallholder farmers to more secure markets, improving the livelihoods and reducing the poverty of women and men employees, suppliers and their households in developing countries.

Funding: Trading Up is a public private partnership with contributions from Global Affairs Canada, MEDA, Sarona Asset Management and private investors.

Project Length: 2017 - 2022

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Project undertaken with the financial support of the Government of Canada provided through Global Affairs Canada