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SME forum to discuss role of business incubators
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 27 - 05 - 2013

RIYADH — The “Saudi International SME Forum”, organized at the Four Seasons Hotel here, is being held to keep pace with the tireless efforts made by the government to support and develop the SME sector, and to increase its role in providing new business opportunities, achieve economic and social development in less developed areas, and broaden the base of the national economy, through the launch of several initiatives and development programs in support of this sector.
This was revealed by Ali Bin Abdullah Al-Ayed, Director General of Saudi Industrial Development Fund, at a press conference here that was attended by Dr. Ibrahim bin Abdulaziz Al Hanichel, Director General of Saudi Credit and Savings, and Osama Bin Abdelrahman Al-Mubarak, chairman in charge of the program to finance SMEs.
The forum is being held under the aegis of Minister of Finance, Dr. Ibrahim Al-Assaf, and organized by the Saudi Industrial Development Fund–Kafalah program and the Saudi Credit and Savings Bank, in collaboration with Al-Iktissad Wal-Aamal Group on May 28-29.
Al-Ayed also pointed out: “We are keen to complete the coordination with banks through the Kafalah program to encourage them to provide more financing and banking services to this sector.”
Pointing out that since the start of the program in 2006 up the end of Q1, 2013, the program management has adopted 5,253 Kafalah contracts, out of which 3,159 beneficiaries were SME's, with the total value amounting SR2.561 million, compared to loans offered by banks participating in the program which is worth $5.284 million.
Al-Ayed also noted that the appetite for banks to finance SME's in cooperation with the Kafalah Program is growing steadily, especially after most banks decided to increase the resources allocated for this sector and establish departments and units specialized in serving SME.
Al Hanichel stated that “The next phase in the bank's activities will experience growth in financing activities, and a continuous facilitation in its procedures, as well as enhancing the coordination with all concerned parties to support SME.”
He also added that “The bank has a comprehensive and detailed executive list to regulate the financing of SME that includes a number of measures that facilitate the lending process, and meet the needs of those who are serious in partaking in the fight of self-employment.”
He also pointed out that “The Bank seeks to coordinate with concerned government agencies to overcome difficulties and shorten the procedures for launching new projects across a number of initiatives, including the Masarat Program, the initiative to establish the council of sponsors, and upcoming initiatives as Al Shabak Program and others to help entrepreneurs succeed their projects and reduce the risk of stumbling.”
Al Hanichel also revealed “The amount of funding provided and guaranteed by the bank for SME reached SR300 million for 1,131 SMEs during Q1 of this year, while the average amount for the past two years have reached SR344 million per year.”
Al-Mubarak said: “The forum will focus in its meetings on key topics such as the role of SME in the creation of new job opportunities and how to enhance the contribution of these enterprises in the national economy, and the role of banks in financing this sector and the upcoming repercussion in the provision of bank financing on the development of these facilities with the participation of a number of executives from Saudi banks.” He added: “The second session of the forum will address the role of the private sector and major companies in the support and development of SME and initiatives provided by these companies to support this sector, in addition to emphasizing the importance of the partnership between the public and private sector in the support and development of SME. Officials from Chambers of Commerce will participate in this meeting, as well as representatives of major companies.”
“The third session will discuss the non-traditional programs for supporting and financing SME, in which the financing risks programs and the new trends in the sector to ensure funding, will be evaluated to ensure. The international experiences from Japan, Germany, Korea, Malaysia and the Gulf in supporting this sector will be addressed in a special and how can it be used them in proportion with the Kingdom's environment and its economic and social conditions,” Mubarak said, adding: “The role of business incubators in the development of the competitiveness ability of SME will be one of the key issues in the forum with a focus on the importance of training and educational programs in the development of skills and abilities of owners of SME.” — SG

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