Saudi SMEs extend lifeline with borrowing to recover from the pandemic

Saudi SMEs extend lifeline with borrowing to recover from the pandemic
Saudi SMEs look for more loans as they face debt during pandemic. Image: Shutterstock
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Updated 07 September 2021

Saudi SMEs extend lifeline with borrowing to recover from the pandemic

Saudi SMEs extend lifeline with borrowing to recover from the pandemic
  • Borrowing by SMEs increased in the first quarter of 2021
  • The data showed that in the first quarter of 2021 the total amount of borrowing by SMEs was SR188.42 billion ($50 billion), up from SR134.84 billion in Q1 2020

RIYADH: Borrowing by SMEs increased in the first quarter of 2021, as they invested to emerge positively from the pandemic, and partly as they incurred debt due to the Covid-19 lockdown.

According to the most recent figures by the Saudi Central Bank, the total amount of credit awarded to SMEs between the first quarter of 2020 and the first quarter of the current year increased by 39.74 percent.

The data showed that in the first quarter of 2021 the total amount of borrowing by SMEs was SR188.42 billion ($50 billion), up from SR134.84 billion in Q1 2020 and SR113.17 billion in Q1 of 2019.


Also read: Saudi tech SMEs can get up to $4 million in loans


The SAMA data showed that the medium-sized enterprises were the top beneficiaries of the government subsidies and their revenues ranged between SR40 million and SR200 million. Medium enterprises are classed as those with 50-249 employees.

Mohammed Ramady, a London-based independent economist, told Arab News it is not surprising to see a surge in credit provided by both banks and finance companies due to “economic revival in this period, and due to the SMEs sector receiving increased government support through Monshaat (the General Authority for SMEs).”

"SMEs also borrowed to cover some debt during lockdown but more to move on from COVID slowdown and to expand some of their activities such as repairs, food and take aways," he added.

He said the Kingdom is also encouraging micro-financing especially for entrepreneurs in the high-tech sector. The economist expects this trend to continue.

All major economies started with a strong SME base, but some have moved on to empowering this sector by stimulating the commercial banking sector to play an effective lending role.

The government has also introduced several programs that are helping small and medium businesses financially, such as the sponsorship program with banks that provide loans.


Read more: Small businesses in the Middle East pay big price for pandemic protection measures


Ramady said: “It is a positive picture as compared to a few years ago when the overall percentage of total bank credit facilities was 5.8 percent for the SMEs sector and the share of finance companies was even much smaller (then).”

The report added that the Kingdom saw a 4.4 percent increase in small-sized enterprises compared to Q1 of 2020 and Q1 of 2021. Small companies are classified as those whose revenues do not exceed SR3 million to SR40 million, and the number of employees does not exceed 6 to 40.

SAMA also reported an increase in credit offered by financial companies in the first quarter of 2021 to SR12.97 billion compared to the first quarter of 2020, which totaled SR9.67 billion while the volume of corporate financing in Q3 of 2020 reached SR10.75 billion.

The banking sector, however, awarded the most credit to SMEs amounting to SR164.53 billion.

Total bank credit for the private sector increased to a record amount, SR1.874 trillion in July, SAMA figures show. 

This is up by 0.5 percent from June and by 15.7 percent year on year. This was the 25th consecutive month of growth.

Bank lending to the private sector increased for the 12th consecutive month, bringing the total to SR1.945 trillion, up by 15 percent year on year, and by 0.6 percent compared to June.


NEOM's tech arm, OneWeb sign a $200m joint venture for high-speed satellite

NEOM's tech arm, OneWeb sign a $200m joint venture for high-speed satellite
Updated 4 sec ago

NEOM's tech arm, OneWeb sign a $200m joint venture for high-speed satellite

NEOM's tech arm, OneWeb sign a $200m joint venture for high-speed satellite

Riyadh: NEOM Tech & Digital Holding Company – the first holding company to be established as a subsidiary of NEOM – and OneWeb, the global communications network powered from space, have signed a $200 million (SAR 750m) joint venture agreement to bring high-speed satellite connectivity to NEOM, Saudi Arabia and the wider Middle East and neighboring East African countries.

NEOM Tech & Digital Hold Co. and the new JV entity will have exclusive rights to distribute OneWeb services in its target regions for seven years from the initiation of the LEO satellite network, which is expected to commence in 2023.

The partnership will see the deployment of OneWeb’s Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite constellation, which will not only provide the rapid and reliable connectivity to enable NEOM’s ecosystem of cognitive technologies, but also transform businesses and rural communities in the region where access to fiber-like internet was previously unimaginable, according to a statement.

The agreement also includes a long-term strategic partnership regarding research and development of future connectivity systems.

NEOM Tech & Digital Hold Co. and OneWeb, the second largest LEO operator with 358 satellites and the only licensed operator in Saudi Arabia, expect to complete ground infrastructure in 2022.

 


Saudi Aramco signs new initial deals during the FII

Saudi Aramco signs new initial deals during the FII
Updated 8 min 30 sec ago

Saudi Aramco signs new initial deals during the FII

Saudi Aramco signs new initial deals during the FII

RIYADH: Saudi Aramco signed five initial deals as it plans to expand its focus on emerging sectors to drive private sector innovation and investment, it said in a statement during the Future Investment Initiative.

"The Company is pursuing investment opportunities in projects that could potentially reduce Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions, following the recent announcement of its ambition to achieve net-zero Scope 1 and Scope 2 GHG emissions across its wholly-owned operated assets by 2050," it said.

The deals are expected to complement Aramco’s continued investments in oil and gas, with further announcements on its Jafurah gas program expected in the near future, it added.  

Amin Nasser, Aramco President and CEO, said: “Our plans illustrate our focus on developing innovative projects and investments, which support our long-term business strategy and aim to have a positive impact. Collaboration will be crucial in promoting economic development and creating new opportunities, as we expand our portfolio, diversify our business, advance low-carbon energy technologies and develop sustainable solutions.”

To move its program forward, Aramco has signed five Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) with the following companies:

  • Modern Industrial Investment Holding Group and Intercontinental Energy – an MoU to develop a green hydrogen and ammonia project in Saudi Arabia;
  • South Pole Carbon Asset Management Ltd. and Yousef Abdulrahman AlDhabyan Agricultural Est.
  • (YADGREEN) – two separate MoUs to evaluate the feasibility of establishing a National Green Services Company to develop and innovate nature-based solutions (NBS) that help reduce greenhouse gas emissions;
  • BFG – an MoU focused on localizing the manufacturing of advanced nonmetallic building materials, as well as collaboration in research and development;
  • ABB – an MoU to explore localization of digital technologies for oil and gas applications, including domestic capacity building in the Process Automation System (PAS) and instrumentation fields.

Greece wants to work with Saudi Arabia to deliver energy to Europe: Greek PM

Greece wants to work with Saudi Arabia to deliver energy to Europe: Greek PM
Updated 26 October 2021

Greece wants to work with Saudi Arabia to deliver energy to Europe: Greek PM

Greece wants to work with Saudi Arabia to deliver energy to Europe: Greek PM

Greece is keen to work with Saudi Arabia to help deliver energy harvested by the Middle East country to Europe, the Greek Prime Minister has said

Speaking at the Future Investment Initiative Forum in Riyadh, Kyriakos Mitsotakis said the current energy situation in his continent has made him look towards the Gulf for more supply options.

Mitsotakis said Greece is “forming a very strategic partnership with Saudi Arabia”, as he talked up areas of mutual interest, such as hospitality.

However, it was energy provision that was top of his mind, with Misotakis confirming Greece would be shutting down all its coal plants by 2028 at the latest.

He said: “We've signed an agreement with Egypt, but l'm sure there's also going to be a lot of interest in terms of extending these types of agreements. 

“Also, with Saudi Arabia, if this area has the capacity to produce very cheap electricity from renewables, and I'm probably referring to the sun, wouldn't it be of mutual interest to bring this electricity into the European market?”

He went on to claim natural gas could be supplied to Europe via a pipeline that goes through Cyprus, Egypt and Israel.

Mitsotakis argued that Greece and Saudi Arabia “live in the same broad neighborhood” and “share the same challenges”.

After his appearance on the forum's stage, he left with Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

 


US consumer confidence recovers; UK pay rises: Economic wrap

US consumer confidence recovers; UK pay rises: Economic wrap
Updated 26 October 2021

US consumer confidence recovers; UK pay rises: Economic wrap

US consumer confidence recovers; UK pay rises: Economic wrap

RIYADH: Consumer confidence in the U.S increased to 113.8 in October, up from 109.8 in September, the US-based Conference Board said. Concerns about high inflation were offset by an optimistic outlook for the labor market. 

This suggests that economic growth might have recovered early in the fourth quarter. This comes after consumer confidence in the country declined for three months in a row. 

UK annual pay rises

Full-time earnings in Britain rose by 4.3 percent in April compared to the previous year, data published by the Office for National Statistics revealed.

Median full-time earnings increased to £611 ($843) in April. After adjusting for inflation, the increase was 1.7 percent.

Hong Kong’s trade deficit

Hong Kong's trade deficit expanded to HKD42.4 billion ($5.5 billion) in September up from HKD12.7 billion ($1.6 billion) a year earlier, Hong Kong’s Census and Statistics Department said. 

Imports grew by 23.5 percent to reach an all-time high of HKD484.2 billion ($62.3 billion), triggered by a significant increase in imports of electrical machinery and related parts.

Exports rose at a lower annual rate of 16.5 percent as it reached HKD441.8 billion ($56.8 billion). This was driven by jumps in the exports of electrical machinery, office machines and automatic data processing machines, and gold and silver products.

Brazil’s inflation

Monthly inflation in Brazil reached 1.2 percent in early October, Bloomberg reported, citing the country’s statistics agency. This will likely put some pressure on its central bank to raise interest rates there, despite plans for greater public spending in the country.

The hike in prices was driven by jumps in transport and housing costs, which increased by 2.06 percent and 1.87 percent respectively.

In addition, the country’s annual inflation rate rose to 10.34 percent.

 


EU and GCC should create greater supply lines, says French trade minister

EU and GCC should create greater supply lines, says French trade minister
Updated 26 October 2021

EU and GCC should create greater supply lines, says French trade minister

EU and GCC should create greater supply lines, says French trade minister

RIYADH: Global supply chains need to be rethought to reduce the impacts of humanitarian or geopolitical crises, France’s foreign trade minister has told the Future Investment Initiative Forum in Riyadh.

Franck Riester highlighted the health, energy and food sectors in particular as areas where the current system is susceptible to fluctuations, such as those caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The minister said the European Union is already seeking to diversify its suppliers in a number of areas, and flagged up closer working with Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries as part of this.

The GCC will be "good partners" in a post-pandemic world, he said.