RIYADH: The total number of loan guarantees processed by Saudi Arabia’s Kafalah program increased by 106 percent year-on-year in the fourth quarter of 2020, with total expenditure exceeding $900 million, according to official figures.
Kafalah — launched in 2006 by the Saudi Industrial Development Fund and Saudi banks — sped up its internal operations during the pandemic year, issuing approvals within one week in response to the high number of requests received.
The increase in processed loan guarantees coincided with the signing of 13 new cooperation agreements with financing companies licensed by the Saudi Central Bank, which contributed to the increase from the previous year.
The initiative issued $3.3 billion in loan guarantees, responding to 5,720 requests in 2020 — an increase of 156 percent.
The Kingdom’s Vision 2030 reform plan has emphasized the importance of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to Saudi economic growth.
Kafalah seeks to achieve this goal with all its initiatives and products, in cooperation with the General Authority for SMEs (Monsha’at) and the National Development Fund (NDF).
Kafalah Chairman Dr. Fahad Ibrahim Alshathri said four initiatives have been launched, in the Hajj and Umrah, education and supply chain sectors — in cooperation with the NDF — to support the Saudization drive and counter the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
The financial packages provided will help stimulate SMEs in sectors such as education, tourism, entertainment and culture by obtaining the necessary funding for them to expand nationwide, as well as encourage other financial institutions to deal with more SMEs.