Business Center Managers during a workshop session. Tunis, Tunisia. September 2019.
Small- and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) account for 90% of all firms in Tunisia. The Government of Tunisia has an array of Business Support Organizations (BSOs), including business centers, that could play key roles in increasing SME access to finance. With financial support from the U.S. State Department’s Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI), FSVC has been working with BSOs in Tunisia since 2018 to build their capacity to help SMEs enhance their access to finance.
As part of this program, in September, FSVC conducted a workshop for business centers on international best practices in communication. FSVC recruited two volunteer experts to help business centers build a strong communication strategy to increase their visibility and strengthen their communication with SMEs and the Government. The FSVC volunteer experts assessed business centers’ current outreach practices and led a brainstorming session to identify bottlenecks and challenges. They also presented tools and techniques to enhance business centers’ visibility and international best practices in communication strategy.
As a result of this project, business centers are better equipped to promote their activity by sharing success stories and clients’ testimonies, which will increase their credibility and impact throughout Tunisia.
FSVC volunteer experts and representatives from the Bank of Albania. Tirana, Albania. October 2019.
Since 2001, FSVC, with support from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), has been providing technical assistance to improve the quality and consistency of regulation and supervision in the Albanian financial sector. A priority of the program has been to build the capacity of the Bank of Albania (BoA) to effectively supervise the banking sector and non-bank financial institutions. The BoA is the sole authority in charge of issuing banknotes and coins in the Republic of Albania. To fulfill its mandate as issuer of the national currency, the BoA compiles relevant plans for issuing national banknotes and coins to meet the demand for cash in the Albanian economy and formulates the withdrawal policy of old banknotes and coins from circulation and their exchange with new issues. The BoA is currently using a cash and vault management system dating back to 2002.
To help the central bank implement a modern software system, in October, two FSVC volunteer experts from Banque de France assisted the BoA in streamlining its IT systems in the area of cash processing. The experts reviewed the core cash processing procedures in place to gain a better understanding of the current operational framework at the BoA, and provided an overview of potential cash and vault management software systems, as well as relevant budget considerations associated with software implementation.
As a result of FSVC’s assistance, the BoA will be able to move forward in identifying specifications for a state-of-the-art software system that, upon implementation, will lead to further convergence with international best practices in cash and vault management systems. A better functioning and safer cash management system will increase the overall operational resilience of the central bank in its capacity as the sole authority in charge of issuing the national currency in Albania.
FSVC volunteer experts and participants. Luanda, Angola. September 2019.
This September, FSVC staff and volunteer experts continued the organization’s USAID-funded work in Angola focused on the management of public resources. Currently in Angola, public oversight institutions meet only once a year to discuss state budget expenditures. During the FSVC workshop, volunteer experts from the Brazilian and Portuguese governments explained the critical and complementary roles that Parliament and other institutions have in the oversight of the budget and enforcement of government accountability.
Through lectures and mock exercises, Members of Parliament and representatives from the National Court of Accounts and the Ministry of Finance learned about their counterparts’ role in budget creation and reviewed inaccuracies in previous state budgets. On the last day of the workshop, representatives from various civil society organizations were invited to take part in the final mock exercise. At the conclusion of the workshop, participants resolved to create a WhatsApp group to increase communication between government institutions for the next budget cycle.
FSVC President & CEO, J. Andrew Spindler, and Sabine Lautenschläger. New York, NY. September 2019.
On September 19, FSVC hosted Sabine Lautenschläger, Executive Board Member of the European Central Bank (ECB) for an engaging discussion on European and global central banking and financial challenges affecting the world. Topics discussed included the need for strengthening global AML/CFT measures, monetary policy, regulating fintech and capacity-building of financial sectors in emerging markets. During the discussion, Ms. Lautenschläger emphasized the relevance of the Basel Core Principles in strengthening emerging market countries’ supervisory frameworks, and highlighted the importance of regulators’ independence. Ms. Lautenschläger lauded FSVC’s mission, as she believes that the kind of work in which FSVC is engaged is urgently needed in many emerging market jurisdictions.