MSMEs in the Informal Sector: Formalization Ensure Sustainable Finance and Decent Jobs?

About 2 billion workers, or over 60 percent of the world’s adult labor force, operate in the informal  sector –at least part-time, according to the ILO. The COVID-19 pandemic hit informal workers  particularly hard, especially women. Micro Small Medium Enterprises (MSME), both formal and  informal, make up over 90% of all firms around the globe and offer employment to one-third of 1.2  billion people in the world who work in the informal sector. They generate services for other sectors  like small and large industries, retail, tourism, transportation, construction, etc., and contribute to over  30% of GDP and more than 70% of all jobs created in developing countries. MSMEs were heavily  impacted by the pandemic and continue to face existential challenges on various fronts including but  not limited to business formalization.

MSMEs, both formal and informal, make up over 90% of all firms around the globe1 and contribute to more than half of the GDP in most countries irrespective of income2. As many countries struggle to cope with the growing debt burdens and limited fiscal space to finance the SDGs, the important role of MSMEs as catalytic forces for achieving the SDGs cannot be stressed enough. Despite formalization gathering pace, MSMEs and those in the informal sector also continue to struggle to access formal finance. Without the appropriate regulatory reforms, social protection measures, access to formal finance, and capacity building in tools such as financial literacy and numeracy tools to help manage finances effectively, inclusive growth and a decent work environment for those in the sector will remain a challenge. As part of the Development Cooperation Strategy 2020-25, the ILO is forging partnerships that advance policy objectives and coherence within the framework of Integrated National Financing Frameworks (INFFs) that promote Financing Decent Work. In this panel, the speakers will share global and on-the-ground perspectives and explore steps countries are taking through regulatory reforms, access to finance, and capacity building to ensure sustainable finance and decent work for MSMEs in the informal sector.

Register here!


  • H.E. Mr. Arrmanatha Christiawan Nasir, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of Indonesia to the  UN (TBC) 
  • Ms. Chantal Line Carpentier, Chief, UNCTAD New York Office of the Secretary-General
  • Ms. Adriana Marina, Founder of Hecho por Nosotros & animaná, Argentina
  • Mr. Amar G. Prabhu, Principal of Don Bosco Industrial Training Institute Kurla, Mumbai, India
  • Ms. Sandie Ejang Elobu, CEO, Western Silk Road, Ltd., Uganda 
  • Ms. Nana Efua Brown-Orleans, Program Lead, Duapa Workspace, Ghana 
  • Ms. Estella Kabagaya Eldradaa, Founder, Mama Children Village, Uganda

Organizers: NGO Committee on Financing for Development, Virginia  Gildersleeve International Fund (DBA Women First International Fund), Salesian Missions Inc, Africa  Development Interchange Network, Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Sisters of Charity Federation


CoNGO Notes: The NGO Committee on Financing for Development is a Substantive Committee of the Conference of NGOs in Consultative Relationship with the United Nations. Likewise, for more information on the NGO Committee on Social Development, please visit For more information on the NGO Committee on Sustainable Development/NY, please visit For more information on the NGO Committee on Sustainable Development/Vienna, please visit For more information on the NGO Committee on the Status of Women/NY, please visit For more information on the NGO Committee on the Status of Women/Geneva, please visit For more information on the NGO Committee on the Status of Women/Vienna, please visit

International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste

Reducing food losses and waste is essential in a world where the number of people affected by hunger has been slowly on the rise since 2014, and tons and tons of edible food are lost and/or wasted every day. Globally, around 14 percent of food produced is lost between harvest and retail, while an estimated 17 percent of total global food production is wasted (11 percent in households, 5 percent in the food service and 2 percent in retail).

The International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste is an opportunity to call to action both the public (national or local authorities) and the private sector (businesses and individuals), to prioritise actions and move ahead with innovation to reduce food loss and waste towards restoring and building back better and resilient-ready, food systems.

Check how you can help us through FAO, the leading agency for this International Day, and discover what you can do. Take action, start something. Stop food loss and waste. For the people. For the planet. And on Sept. 29th, join the global virtual event, where FAO and UNEP experts will share their perspectives on the issues and actions required to stem the problem of food loss and waste. Register here!

To share your event, download the logo and other social media materials in different languages, check the guide that will help you to spread the message, or just get more information, at FAO’s official page for the Observance. To learn more about how and why the UN commemorates the International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste, please visit


CoNGO Notes: For more information on the NGO Committee on Sustainable Development-NY, please visit For more information on the NGO Committee on Sustainable Development-Vienna, please visit For more information on the NGO Committee on Education, Learning, and Literacy, please visit

Digital and Financial Inclusion: Pathways to promote an inclusive Post-COVID-19 socio-economic recovery

Virtual side event during the 2021 ECOSOC FfD Forum on Financing for Development

Date & time: April 12 from 1:15 pm – 2:45 pm EST

Register in advance for this meeting (by 5:00pm EST on April 11):

World Bank data (September 2020) indicates that 212 countries have planned, introduced, or put in place 1179 safety net payments and other social protection measures for the most vulnerable populations. But reports also show that digital exclusion and lack of access to a bank account, in the form of a transactional or savings account or a digital wallet, continues to pose immense challenges for those in marginalized communities, especially women youth, refugees, and migrant workers in the informal sector, to recoup benefits from government relief measures such as cash transfers and subsidies, the very measures intended to help tide them over, in a quick and timely manner. Women continue to face widespread barriers to financial inclusion. Globally, of the 1.7 billion people that remain unbanked, meaning they do not hold an account at a bank or a mobile bank provider, approximately 1 billion are women and in developing countries. The 9% gender gap that existed over the last decade continues to persist.

While businesses are increasingly offering consumers the option to transact through online and mobile platforms, two major barriers prevent consumers from adopting these digital options: lack of internet connectivity (digital exclusion) and or lack of a bank account to receive or make payments (financial exclusion). In addition, Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) face considerable challenges in accessing digital financial services and credit, inclusive insurance schemes and online payment systems and retail platforms that will be keys for their survival in the post-COVID era.

Digital financial inclusion is ever more critical for marginalized communities, especially women, youth, refugees and informal migrant workers, to recover from the crisis and to ensure the survival and sustainability of MSMEs. Long-term risks and barriers of entry, including lack of access to Smartphone services due to marginalized populations’ inabilities to engage in contracts, complex lending practices, especially among women, poor digital literacy and financial literacy and numeracy skills, and lack of valid identification for refugees forced to leave all personal possessions behind, to name but a few, are significant obstacles that could cause more harm than good if not effectively managed. The Global community must act now to bridge the gaps and barriers restricting the world’s most vulnerable populations from meeting their financial needs.

Implementing appropriate regulatory measures in a timely manner is essential for consumer protection and to ensure the funds reach those whom it is intended for. In the July 1, 2020 Special Series Notes on COVID-19 of the International Monetary Fund, experts noted that while the need for social distancing has put a spotlight on digital financial services, scaling up too fast in times of crisis without appropriate regulatory mechanisms could pose a risk to stability and integrity.

The panel will explore the interlinkages between financial and digital inclusion, innovative advancement in fintech and digital infrastructure to advance last-mile connectivity and address the challenges to financial inclusion faced by marginalized communities and MSMEs, as well as propose measures to address regulatory challenges, and disparities in broadband connectivity.


  • Member State representative (TBC)
  • Ms. Lois, Bruu, Vice President, Humanitarian and Development, Master Card Speaking on innovative initiatives to advance digital financial inclusion for marginalized communities, especially women, and MSMEs and recommendations to address financial, economic, structural, and regulatory barriers to advancing financial inclusion for all
  • Ms. Purva Khera, Economist, International Monetary Fund Interlinkages between digital and financial inclusion, financing challenges and advancement in fintech to address the challenges faced by MSMEs and marginalized communities, including women
  • Mr. Jon Frost, Senior Economist, Innovation and the Digital Economy unit, MED, Bank for International Settlements Risks and emerging concerns around digital finance that could work contrary to goals to help marginalized communities
  • Representative from civil society speaking on an innovative initiative/s to ensure reliable broadband connectivity for advancing digital financial services, including last-mile connectivity (TBC)
  • Ms. Lydia Charles, Founder and Executive Director, Her Initiative, Tanzania Challenges to financial and digital inclusion at the grassroots level, especially for women, and steps to take to address these challenges.

Moderator: Anita Thomas, Representative to the UN, Virginia Gildersleeve International Fund (DBA Women First International Fund); Chair, NGO Committee on Financing for Development


Virginia Gildersleeve International Fund, Sisters of Charity Federation, Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary – Loreto Generalate, Global Foundation for Democracy and Development, New Humanity for the Focolare Movement, Salesian Missions Inc, Change Management Solutions, Startnoo


CoNGO Notes: For more information on the NGO Committee on Financing for Development, please visit For more information on the NGO Committee on Sustainable Development-Vienna, please visit For more information on the NGO Committee on Sustainable Development-NY, please visit