Ensure quick and well-timed disbursements

Eastern Bank PLC aims to dominate the SME lending market by offering a range of competitive and differentiated product solutions to its customers. The SME products are tailored to clients' needs, with quick, hassle-free loan disbursement processes requiring minimal documentation, and 80% of loans being mortgage-free. EBL supports SMEs by evaluating their cash flows and providing timely disbursements of loans up to BDT 1.50 Crore without collateral. This access to unsecured finance enables customers to experience significant development and business growth. Maintaining our client base effectively and reaching bankable businesses nationwide are paramount. Our bank reaches SMEs in rural and remote areas through various channels including branches, sub-branches, and agent banking outlets. Currently, we operate 85 branches, 36 sub-branches, and 104 agent banking outlets across Bangladesh.

Additional measures that banks can take to better support SMEs include ensuring quick and timely disbursement of SME loans and financing accurate loan amounts according to customer requirements. For seasonal businesses, timely disbursement of SME loans is crucial for maintaining business stability and ensuring timely loan repayments. We assess our clients thoroughly and provide financial support aligned with their business plans, focusing away from mortgage requirements. Business types and funding needs are carefully evaluated for customers, and we continuously enhance our SME product offerings accordingly. Our bank plans to strengthen our focus on meeting the needs of SME clients by expanding our range of product solutions from working capital to fixed asset finance, thereby streamlining and reinforcing SME lending.

In terms of government support to facilitate our efforts in assisting SMEs, we strongly believe that exempting cottage, micro, and small businesses from taxes could enhance clients' financial solvency, while increasing refinance facilities may reduce fund costs. SME products must be more attractive and suitable for the international market, necessitating training for business owners to meet international standards. They will also require advanced equipment and technology to increase production and manufacture high-quality, durable products. In addition to financial support, these business owners will need technical, marketing, and managerial support.

SME clients face issues with foreign currency and Letters of Credit (LC) for imports. Coupled with shortages in gas supply, these challenges cause businesses to shrink, necessitating support in these areas. Despite the government's initiative to establish 100 Economic Zones in Bangladesh, SMEs do not find viable opportunities there. Apart from the presence of the Bangladesh Small & Cottage Industries Corporation (BSCIC) and the 74 industrial estates, there are no other hubs or areas fostering SME growth. The government may implement changes to improve this scenario and focus more on supporting SMEs in the future, ensuring easy access to finance, which will facilitate our efforts in assisting SMEs.

Building awareness among SME clients regarding international standards and marketable products, maintaining proper business documentation to ensure organised, accessible, and up-to-date records, fostering genuine transactional relationships with banks, enhancing market competitiveness, and assuring product quality are crucial aspects for boosting the SME sector. In addition to trading businesses, which dominate in our country, manufacturing businesses also hold significant growth potential within the SME sector.

Link: https://www.thedailystar.net/supplements/msmes-day-2024/news/ensure-quick-and-well-timed-disbursements-3642681