ACCA - The global body for professional accountants

Access to finance


SMEs are the backbone of the global economy. With banks still reeling it is important that SMEs have access to the right funding to help them restore economic growth.

To this day, only a very small percentage of the world’s Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) are funded by public equity or debt. The figure varies by country but is typically in the low single digits. Although micro- and small- caps (with a market capitalisation of less than $65m and $200m respectively) made up 64% of the world’s listed companies at last count (2011), they accounted for only 4% of share trading volume, according to figures from the World Federation of Exchanges.

Public offerings are unlikely to ever become a suitable source of finance for the vast majority of SMEs, but to those preparing for rapid growth they can often provide unmatched access to capital and a high-profile platform besides.

For this reason, ACCA works with governments, exchange operators, regulators, as well as the representatives of investors and businesses, to ensure that public offerings are available as a viable financing option to the right businesses. Our research considers how SMEs can be given access to liquid and efficient markets; provide useful and proportionate disclosures to investors; and achieve the high standards of governance that investors and other stakeholders rightly expect. 


Our latest case study (part of ACCA’s Connecting Capital Markets series) looks into the launch of the Growth Enterprise Market Segment (GEMS) at the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE), tracking the build-up to and aftermath of, its first-ever listing. Read the full report.

A fascinating case study of capital market development for SMEs in the Caribbean can also be found in our report, Making Capital Markets Working in Emerging and Frontier Economies.


Our recent blog post, Capital Quandary, discusses some of the options that policymakers have at their disposal.


Capital markets can help finance SMEs in other ways besides public offerings: investors with a greater tolerance for risk and a greater appetite for returns seek out small business credit and equity more generally as asset classes, often across borders. ACCA is particularly interested in the potential for capital markets to bring together traditional financial intermediaries and investors through securitisation. In April 2013 we explored this alongside our partners, UEAPME (the European Association of Craft, Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises) and AFME (the Association of Financial Markets in Europe)at a high-profile event at the European Parliament.

Read ACCA's report on the outcomes of this event.

Published: 18 Jun 2013