“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
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.
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