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Banks ramp up loans, funding offerings for SMEs and start-ups

SINGAPORE — Banks are upping their ante to serve small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and start-ups. In recent weeks, some banks have announced more support for loans and crowdfunding options for this sector.

SINGAPORE — Banks are upping their ante to serve small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and start-ups. In recent weeks, some banks have announced more support for loans and crowdfunding options for this sector.

In a statement yesterday, DBS said it is offering a collateral-free business capabilities loan, one that is designed for SMEs that have successfully applied for Government grants. These firms can tap on the loan to cover expenses incurred prior to them receiving the grant reimbursement.

The loan eliminates the strain on SMEs’ working capital and cash flows, making it easier for companies to take the leap in building new capabilities, said DBS.

Some banks are also working with alternative funding groups to provide more options for SMEs. Earlier this month, United Overseas Bank partnered OurCrowd, a crowdfunding start-up, to give its clients access to equity crowdfunding opportunities globally. The bank said the partnership deepens its support network for start-ups and SMEs in the region.

On Monday, Maybank said it aims to “aggressively grow” its retail SME portfolio in Singapore by 40 per cent this year. Two years after it launched its retail SME business here, the lender has seen its SME loans increase by more than 50 per cent and deposits rise almost 25 per cent. For FY15, the bank said it saw revenue contribution from this portfolio grow by 52 per cent.

“We welcome that banks are extending their focus on SMEs. Having more financing options is a good plus point. Since SMEs are usually privately owned or family run, financing from banks is usually the main channel for funds,” said Association of Small and Medium Enterprises president Kurt Wee. Angela Teng

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