“THE FO­CUS IS ON SMES”

Small and Medium-sized En­ter­prises (SMEs) are the back­bone of ev­ery thriv­ing econ­omy but their story world­wide is not al­ways an easy one. To be­come the large cor­po­ra­tions of the fu­ture they need sup­port and en­cour­age­ment and the role of the banks in their

Qatar Today - - INSIDE THE ISSUE -

In an in­ter­view with Qatar To­day, Ha­mad Has­san Al Ja­mali says that lend­ing to SMEs is a pri­or­ity for QNB as the sec­tor is wit­ness­ing an ex­po­nen­tial growth in the re­cent years.

SME lend­ing as a per­cent­age of banks' to­tal lend­ing has been low in the re­gion due to mas­sive loan re­quire­ments of the hy­dro­car­bon in­dus­try. More­over, many SMEs have been set up by es­tab­lished fam­i­lies which need no fund­ing,” ex­plains Ha­mad Has­san Al Ja­mali, Act­ing As­sis­tant Gen­eral Manager SME Bank­ing at Qatar Na­tional Bank (QNB). In an in­ter­view with

Qatar To­day, Al Ja­mali says that lend­ing to SMEs is a pri­or­ity for QNB as the sec­tor has wit­nessed an ex­po­nen­tial growth in re­cent years. With Qatar mov­ing away from a hy­dro­car­bon-based econ­omy, the fo­cus is now more on SMEs as they will be de­vel­op­ing new sec­tors such as ser­vices.

“How­ever, the SME sec­tor is rel­a­tively new for Qatar; hence there is a need for a greater fo­cus on its growth from all mem­bers of the ecosys­tem,” he feels.

Ac­cord­ing to him, more and more en­trepreneurs have started set­ting up busi­nesses that do have a re­quire­ment for fund­ing. “Our bank is uniquely po­si­tioned to as­sist th­ese busi­nesses and has ex­pe­ri­ence of many years within the sec­tor,” he points out. Al Ja­mali also says many large firms started as SMEs ini­tially and hence the po­ten­tial of the SMEs should be sup­ported.

“In ad­di­tion we have seen new tech­nolo­gies and the cre­ation of new in­dus­tries orig­i­nat­ing by SMEs that con­trib­ute di­rectly and sig­nif­i­cantly to the well­be­ing of any na­tion. SMEs are also ma­jor em­ploy­ers and nur­ture the en­tre­pre­neur­ial spirit within a coun­try,” he says.

More and more multi-na­tional firms have been switch­ing their sup­pli­ers to lo­cal SMEs as this sec­tor de­vel­ops ca­pa­bil­i­ties. SMEs that cater to the hy­dro­car­bon in­dus­try also have sub­stan­tial re­gional op­por­tu­ni­ties which QNB sup­ports through its ex­ten­sive GCC net­work.

Leader in SME fund­ing

QNB has main­tained its dom­i­nant po­si­tion in the busi­ness sec­tor by de­liv­er­ing cor­po­rate fi­nan­cial ser­vices and value-added in­no­va­tive prod­ucts and ser­vices to meet the com­mer­cial ob­jec­tives of its SME clients through­out Qatar.

“Our Com­mit­ment to SMEs is ex­tended to all sec­tors, and un­der­pinned by a num­ber of re­cent ini­tia­tives. Our ‘One- Stop Shop' ap­proach op­er­ates in col­lab­o­ra­tion with a num­ber of part­ners,” he says.

The bank's gov­ern­ment-af­fil­i­ated part­ners in­clude Qatar Devel­op­ment Bank (QDB), Be­daya, Min­istry of In­for­ma­tion and Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Tech­nol­ogy (ICT), Min­istry of En­ergy and In­dus­try and Cham­ber of Com­merce (QCC). Be­sides gov­ern­ment agen­cies, the bank is also part­ner­ing with Man­nai and QBC in the pri­vate sec­tor for equip­ment fi­nance with brands such as JCB and Hyundai.

This would help clients in get­ting a quick loan ap­proval process and re­li­able af­ter- sales ser­vice. Al Ja­mali says the bank sees more po­ten­tial in sec­tors such as man­u­fac­tur­ing and has placed staff in all cor­po­rate branches to sup­port SME busi­nesses and sec­tors in which the de­mand is an­tic­i­pated.

New schemes

Al Ja­mali says the bank has in­tro­duced loan prod­ucts with the fastest loan ap­proval which can be within 24 hours. Th­ese, cou­pled with over­draft fa­cil­i­ties, can pro­vide en­trepreneurs with up to QR2 mil­lion based on the sec­tor in which they op­er­ate or the monthly in­come of the spon­sor. The lat­ter can help star­tups ac­cess funds de­spite the lack of a track record. How­ever, the prod­uct that is pre­dom­i­nately fo­cused on star­tups is Al Dhameen which was cre­ated by Qatar Devel­op­ment Bank. Al Dhameen loans can be in the form of project fi­nanc­ing loans for man­u­fac­tur­ing, where the max­i­mum tenor is eight years in­clud­ing a two-year grace pe­riod. Fi­nanc­ing for ser­vices will have a max­i­mum tenor of five years, in­clud­ing a one-year grace pe­riod. Loans of up to QR15 mil­lion can ben­e­fit from the Al Dhameen guar­an­tees and QNB is the ma­jor Al Dhameen part­ner

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