Financial Inclusion in a Post-COVID-19 Mediterranean: Challenges and Opportunities

9 December 2020. From 16:00  | Workshop | English | French | Online
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The MED Confederation, an alliance of Euro-Mediterranean institutions and organizations to promote socio-economic cooperation in the region, is organizing a webinar to discuss the issue of financial inclusion in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic in the Mediterranean.

The session aims to address the challenges that this crisis has created for the financial inclusion of people and companies, as well as the opportunities highlighted by the pandemic to reduce financial exclusion in the Mediterranean.

Sénen Florensa, President of the Executive Committee of the IEMed, and Chris de Noose, President of the Med Confederation, welcome, noting how the field of finance can boost cooperation between the Mediterranean countries. In this regard, Florence emphasizes the role of the MED Confederation, which ranges from financial education to providing access to finance (microfinance, mobile financing, etc.).

In the same vein, Noose points out that the pandemic has put a lot of pressure on the Mediterranean region and, above all, on homes and businesses. However, he stresses that the solution is not to “increase and expand access to finance”, but to “increase the resilience of people, households and businesses”.

The event also features speeches by Ferid Belhaj (Vice President for the Middle East and North Africa, World Bank Group), who focuses his speech on the different challenges currently facing North African and Middle Eastern countries: gender inequality, limited competition in the banking sector, reducing unemployment and tackling the informal economy.

Jaloul Ayed (Honorary President, MED Confederation. Former Minister of Finance of Tunisia) explains that “the Covid-19 crisis has highlighted the importance of digital financial services and their role in achieving sustainable development.” He also talks about financial inclusion from a macroeconomic perspective, in which the main goal is to “improve economic growth and reduce poverty and inequality in society.”

Philippe de Fontaine Vive (General Manager, Compagnie Financière Richelieu. Honorary Vice President, European Investment Bank (EIB), highlights the urgency of preparing financial arrangements for 2021 “to strengthen microfinance institutions, as they are those that have access to small and medium-sized enterprises. “He adds that” only national arrangements will be insufficient to achieve trans-Mediterranean solidarity, which is now essential. “

Ibrahim El Badawi (Managing Director, Economic Research Forum. President, Euro-Mediterranean Forum of Institutes of Economic Science (FEMISE) and Former Minister of Finance and Economic Planning of Sudan), emphasizes the importance of financial education in the MENA region and the need for governments to rethink the social contract with the citizenry.

Rym Ayadi (Founder and President, Euro-Mediterranean Economists Association (EMEA) speaks of digital financial inclusion as a “pillar of resilience” that needs to be accelerated quickly.

Finally, Essma Ben Hamida (Co-Founder and Board Member, Enda Tamweel), explains how in Tunisia “the pandemic has hit especially the most vulnerable population and accentuated the feminization of poverty.” Ben Hamida also points out that the Covid-19 has had a great impact on the tourism, transport and catering sectors, “sectors that usually request microfinance”.