SR2 billion fund to support SMEs in Saudi healthcare sector

A Saudi nurse checks a patient at a mobile clinic catering for the residents of Ajyad Almasafi district in the holy city of Mecca, on April 7, 2020. (File/AFP)
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Updated 09 April 2020

SR2 billion fund to support SMEs in Saudi healthcare sector

  • Social Development Bank initiative is part of SR12bn support program to mitigate the financial and economic effects of coronavirus crisis

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s Social Development Bank has launched a SR2 billion ($530 million) “healthcare portfolio” to support established and new small and medium enterprises in the Kingdom’s healthcare sector.

The fund forms part of a recently announced SR12 billion support program designed to mitigate the financial and economic effects of COVID-19 crisis.

Under the new initiative SDB will offer swift financing solutions, with flexible funding tailored to the requirements of each beneficiary, to help SMEs in this vital sector continue to provide their services to the public, and maintain and enhance their contribution to economic growth and employment. It also supports the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 Quality of Life Program, and its long-term goals of improving medical services in the country and enhancing the global ranking of the nation’s healthcare system.

SDB CEO Ibrahim Al-Rashid said that healthcare SMEs that previously received funding from the bank experienced strong growth, while benefiting from concessional financing and business services available at 27 SDB branches across the country.

He added that the new healthcare portfolio is in line with the bank’s strategic goal of supporting the healthcare sector through the funding SMEs in 12 fields licensed by Ministry of Health: medical complexes, medical factories, specialized clinics, consultation clinics, radiology centers, one-day clinics, medical laboratories, home medical care centers, emergency medicine, rehabilitation, preventive health, and medical services).

The SR2 billion fund will help more than 1,000 new and existing SMEs to maintain essential services during this critical time, while contributing to the Kingdom’s long-term strategic objectives, Al-Rashid said.

SDB, which was established in 1971, has supported more than 2.7 million Saudi citizens by providing funding of SR107 billion to individuals and SMEs, and delivering a wide range of business-support services.


Google Cloud prepares for Black Friday ‘peak on top of peak’

Updated 04 August 2020

Google Cloud prepares for Black Friday ‘peak on top of peak’

  • Cloud technology, used to host websites and store data, is a key part of many retailers’ e-commerce operations

OAKLAND, California: Alphabet’s Google Cloud unit is poised for a surge in fourth-quarter sales from US retailers, as they brace for record online shopping during the holidays because of COVID-19 lockdowns.
Cloud technology, used to host websites and store data, is a key part of many retailers’ e-commerce operations. As fees are often pegged to site traffic, a jump in activity will drive up revenue for the unit.
Carrie Tharp, vice president of retail and consumer at Google Cloud, said that her team had this year tossed out its linear growth model to predict how many servers it will need to process web orders for retailers around Black Friday.
“We’re planning for peak on top of peak,” she said on Monday. That could be a boon for Google Cloud, which has generated about 30 percent of its revenue during the fourth quarter the last two years.
Stores such as Kohls Corp. and Wayfair Inc. lean on Google months in advance to ensure it has enough servers to withstand increased shopping during holiday discount days such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday in November and December.
This year, Black Friday-style demand has flooded shops since March, when the United States began lockdowns, Tharp said.
Holiday shopping is expected to boost demand further, as retailers including Target Corp. and Walmart Inc. have said they will reduce in-store hours because of coronavirus concerns.
Tharp said the pandemic has already benefitted Google Cloud, with some retailers adopting its predictive algorithms years ahead of plan to help them work out the most efficient way of fulfilling orders.
Electronics retailer Best Buy Co., for instance, announced on Tuesday a multi-year deal to centralize customer and product data with Google Cloud to improve its loyalty program and online ad campaigns.
The companies declined to elaborate on the deal, but Tharp said she hopes it leads to Google eventually powering Best Buy’s web ordering system.