x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Standard Chartered offers experts to help guide SMEs

Standard Chartered is offering a team of experts to help guide entrepreneurs of SMEs, which have outpaced GDP growth in the region, as well as Asia and Africa.

The focus on the country's small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) continues to grow, with Standard Chartered launching a package of new products and services to help boost the fast-growing sector.

The London and Hong Kong-listed lender says the move is aimed at meeting the financial needs of the sector and to power "their aspirations for growth" in the UAE and international markets.

"The SME segment has grown at almost twice the rate of GDP in most markets and is expected to grow at 10 per cent to 12 per cent per year across our footprint in Asia, Africa and the Middle East," says Subroto Som, the global head of SME banking at Standard Chartered.

"Through the strengthened customer offering that addresses the changing needs of SMEs, Standard Chartered's ambition is to be the leading international bank for SMEs, building the segment into a multibillion-dollar business over the next three to four years."

As one of the UAE's fastest-growing segments, SMEs account for about 90 per cent of all businesses and 46 per cent of GDP.

The bank's new services for SMEs include customers being assigned a team of specialists that will assist them in finding the best solutions for their expansion plans, such as funding, trade finance and cash management.

SME customers will also have access to a dedicated 24-hour hotline and Straight2Bank, Standard Chartered's online banking platform.

Other benefits include an international trade account, which offers preferential pricing on trade finance and remittance services, and access to Business Advance, a service designed to meet the expansion needs of customers and which provides short-, medium- and long-term financing options.

"We are boosting our customer value offering to address the changing needs of SMEs and focusing on providing working capital, business expansion, business protection and yield enhancement," says Sadia Saeed, Standard Chartered's general manager of SME banking in the UAE.

"With more than 175,000 SME businesses in the UAE, the sector is one of the key pillars of the national economy. With the country's increased economic bilateral relations with key markets in Asia, Africa and the Middle East, we expect this sector to witness further growth."

Standard Chartered derives about 90 per cent of its income and profits from Asia, the Middle East and Africa.

National Bank of Abu Dhabi, the UAE's second-biggest lender by assets, also recently announced a five-year strategy to capture the SME and entrepreneur market.

For more information, go to www.standardchartered.ae.

fglover@thenational.ae