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Policy Briefs

Global Public-Private Digital Utilities for MSME Recovery and Transition

Task Force: Climate and environment


Tamara Singh ,
Mei Lin Fung ,
Eileen Murray ,
Anthony Lacavaro ,
Matthew Gamser ,
Brian Omwenga ,
Ndemo Bitange ,
Homi Kharas


A robust and equitable digital economy needs to promote the inclusive and sustainable recovery and growth of MSMEs (Micro, Small and Medium Sized Enterprises). Globally, these offer most of the formal employment, ranging from 53% to 86% (Kamal-Chaoui, L. 2017), providing the local infrastructure for capital circulation that most directly benefits communities. Today, the funding shortfall for formal MSMEs is approximately 55% of demand or an estimated $5.2 trillion dollars (International Finance Corporation, 2017). Drivers of global job creation, they suffer lower rates of digital adoption which constrains their growth. The opportunity exists for global leaders to nudge industry towards a profitable, inclusive, and self-sustaining future.  A country-specific pilot defining global protocols, with configuration capability for national needs, is estimated to cost $2M and could be completed by 2023.  Attractive markets for piloting a data utility have been identified, such as Indonesia, Puerto Rico, and Kenya.  The pilot is intended to yield a self-sustaining model, and success metrics should include financial sustainability, adoption of the solution and impact on G7 priorities such as Net Zero transition. The initial use case proposed for pilot is in supporting access to finance and literacy programmes for communities that offer carbon sequestration potential, facilitating those communities in developing sustainable practices whilst supporting preservation and conservation activities. Success in these pilots could be readily transferred to other countries and expanded into other communities. By engaging local governments, traditional lenders, fintech firms, and larger pools of global capital, financial services firms will obtain the data transparency they need to facilitate funding for MSMEs and, through secondary markets, keep that capital in circulation, where it can have the greatest economic impact.


This policy brief proposes a better way for MSMEs to leverage their digital data for increased and cheaper access to finance and other value-added services via a public-private partnership establishing “Data Utilities” to provide real-time and affordable access to trusted data on MSMEs for better access to financial services, helping lenders better assess MSME credit risk and support faster onboarding.