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Newly-launched ‘Programme Sirius’ initiative backed by APAC fintech players to drive MSME’s sustainable growth

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Azunta Gaviola

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4 months ago

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Tokyo, Japan – With the support of FinTech leaders in the region, Programme Sirius, a sustainability innovation for regenerative and inclusive purposes has recently launched, with a focus on empowering micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises in their transition to sustainable goals.

As an industry-led initiative, the project aspires to assist MSMEs operating on digital platforms in their journey towards sustainability. In particular, it will facilitate open industry dialogues where like-minded industry partners can exchange ideas on sustainability innovations and share best practices to support MSMEs on their sustainability journey.

During the launch, 13 industry partners from 11 economies pledged their commitment to Programme Sirius, which includes AlipayHK (Hong Kong SAR, China), ANEXT Bank (Singapore), Bigpay (Malaysia), bKash (Bangladesh), DANA (Indonesia), GCash (the Philippines), Hipay (Mongolia), Kakao Pay (Republic of Korea), MPay (Macao SAR, China), TNG Digital (Malaysia), TossPay (Republic of Korea), TrueMoney (Thailand), and Zalopay (Vietnam).

This effort will help these businesses transition into a low-carbon economy, enhance their access to sustainability financing, and provide them with new growth opportunities.

Part of the initiative involves the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, which is set to work together with Ant International to develop and promote a set of digital sustainability impact management toolkits over the next two years.

These toolkits are designed to empower MSMEs to embrace environmentally and socially responsible practices, enhance their access to sustainable finance through digitalisation, and steer the economy towards a low-carbon development trajectory.

Additionally, Gprnt, an initiative by the Monetary Authority of Singapore, will also team up with Ant International to assist MSMEs in initiating their sustainability journeys. This joint effort will offer a technology-enabled reporting solution for MSMEs, simplifying sustainability disclosures based on fundamental environmental, social, and governance (ESG) metrics. 

Gprnt will also enhance Programme Sirius by demonstrating how MSMEs can leverage data and technology to access sustainable business, finance, and supply chain opportunities more effectively.

Following this endeavour, Leiming Chen, chief sustainability officer at Ant International, said, “We always talk about financial and digital inclusion, but sustainability inclusion for MSMEs is becoming one of the most pressing challenges. As these merchants play an increasingly important role in the global and local economies, there is a need to provide them with the right mindset, knowledge, and resources to take climate action. 

“Given the complexities of the task, ranging from taxonomy and governance framework to cost and education, it requires collective effort across the public and private sectors, industries, and markets to drive this change. With our experience in innovation-led sustainability and MSME programmes, Ant International is proud to join partners like the Gprnt and IFC and other industry partners of the Programme Sirius like GCash to unlock opportunities for MSMEs as they transform to become more sustainable,” Chen further explained. 

Martha Sazon, president and chief executive officer at GCash, also commented, “MSMEs are the backbone of any growing economy. With this, GCash has become their bridge to digital by providing essential tools – transforming the way they do business. We remain committed to helping Filipino MSMEs achieve progress through democratised financial services, especially with easy access to credit.”

Christina Ongoma, upstream and advisory manager, financial institutions group for East Asia and the Pacific at IFC, further remarked, “MSMEs are the backbone of the Asia-Pacific economy, accounting for more than 97 percent of its businesses and employing over half its workforce. Meanwhile, our region accounts for three-fifths of global emissions from power generation and includes many countries vulnerable to climate change.”

“The sustainable growth of MSMEs is of great importance, as it not only creates jobs and drives economic growth but also paves the way for a better future for all,” added Christina.

Meanwhile, Sopnendu Mohanty, chief FinTech officer at the Monetary Authority of Singapore, said, “The widespread adoption of digital wallets and payment solutions makes them a key enabler for helping smaller businesses commence their sustainability journeys. Industry initiatives like Programme Sirius are important for the public and private sectors to coordinate the tools, frameworks, and technologies for smaller businesses to build their sustainability competencies as they transition into the green economy.” 

“The MAS is pleased to support Programme Sirius by leveraging its work on Project Savannah, which articulates a common starting point for MSMEs to report basic ESG information, and through the involvement of the newly established Gprnt platform, which harnesses technology and automation to simplify how MSMEs report such information. We look forward to Programme Sirius bringing together global financial institutions and payment providers to collectively power more inclusive and sustainable growth for MSMEs around the world,” concluded Sopnendu.

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