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FSVC Monthly Update – Supporting Budget Advocacy in Southern Africa, Combating Financial Crime in the Middle East and More!

Statement Regarding the Events in Washington, D.C.,

on January 6, 2021

The storming of the U.S. Capitol by a mob with the intention of disrupting the final stage of the U.S. Presidential electoral process represents an attack on American democracy, without parallel in the country’s history.

In our work at FSVC, we have long asserted that a sound financial sector and the rule of law are two of the most critical underpinnings of a stable, functioning market economy. The United States has been a beacon of these principles, not just throughout FSVC’s 30-year history, but over the quarter of a millennium that this country has existed. It has been a humbling and deeply disturbing experience to see one of the core principles underlying our work across the emerging market world – the rule of law — violated in the United States. This attack on democracy has challenged another of FSVC’s core values as well, given that our work at its most successful leads to the expansion of a middle class with a greater stake in a country’s economic and political outcomes.

Our democracy in the United States is surely still strong; it has met, and will continue to meet, challenges. At FSVC, our volunteers will continue to represent America at its best. And through our work we will continue to promote strong financial sectors, the rule of law and a better quality of life for all people in the countries that seek our assistance.

J. Andrew Spindler
President & CEO

Southern Africa: Webinar on Budget Policy and Advocacy

Maseru, Lesotho

In Lesotho and Eswatini, civil society organizations (CSOs) have been largely absent from the political sphere and exert little influence on their government’s policy agenda.

To build CSOs’ technical knowledge of the national budget process, in December, FSVC conducted a webinar for CSOs in Eswatini and Lesotho on CSO engagement in budget policy. FSVC presented the purpose and functioning of a national budget, the different stages of the budget and tools used for fiscal planning. FSVC also introduced various fiscal concepts, including gender-based budgeting and rights-based budgeting.

Thanks to this webinar, CSOs will now be better positioned to engage with Members of Parliament and key line ministries, and advocate for targeted social spending to support vulnerable groups. “The webinar was valuable. We learned a lot about the budget process and were able to identify areas where we as CSOs can engage with the government,” expressed a CSO representative in Lesotho.

This activity was part of a three-year program funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to strengthen anti-corruption efforts and procedures in Southern Africa.

Middle East: Speaking at the FinTech FinCrime Exchange

Virtual Conference 

In December, FSVC was invited to the FinTech FinCrime Exchange Conference (FFECON), organized by Fintrail. Danyelle Gerges, FSVC Regional Director for the Middle East, participated in a panel discussion on financial crime threats and challenges in the Middle East.

Ms. Gerges shared top risks and threats faced by legacy financial institutions as well as fintech businesses in the region. She also gave an overview of the regulatory environment in Middle Eastern countries and how it compares to international standards. Drawing from FSVC’s experience, she noted that cross-institutional coordination and cross-border efforts are key to combating financial crime and remaining actively engaged with the international financial system.

Tribute to Volunteer Expert John Glazer

John Glazer during his last FSVC project. Tunis, Tunisia, January 2020

We at FSVC were deeply saddened to learn of John Glazer’s recent passing. John was a generous, dedicated volunteer expert who participated in 10 FSVC missions over the last 8 years spanning across Egypt, Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia.

John was an exceptional volunteer and profound humanist, often taking his generosity beyond volunteering his time and expertise by covering his own costs when working for FSVC. In addition to supporting FSVC’s counterparts, John often advised and mentored our staff as they worked to develop program strategies and workplans. Our staff always knew they could rely on John for his advice and support in multiple facets of our work.

John touched many people during his life and through his invaluable work, and we at FSVC are deeply grateful for his gifts. His professional contributions will continue to strengthen entrepreneurs and small businesses for many years to come in the countries that were lucky enough to receive his visits as an FSVC volunteer expert. As FSVC President & CEO Andy Spindler summarized, “John leaves large shoes to fill, and we hope that the future FSVC volunteers who continue in John’s footsteps will strive to demonstrate the same grace and kindness that he conveyed in all of his efforts.”