compareit4me.com, the largest finance comparison website in the Middle East, has highlighted the need for more banks in Bahrain to offer finance products aimed at businesses.
In recent months, banks in Bahrain have recognised the role SMEs play in the economic development of the region, and are subsequently continuing to create more specialised solutions. They are offering a wide range of banking and financial services, from bank accounts to loans, with the aim of helping SMEs grow beyond their potential. However, compareit4me group believe there is still an opportunity for them to give more.
Earlier this year the Ministry of Industry and Commerce announced that Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) contribution to Bahrain’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is estimated to be around 28%. They also said they had ambitions to grow those figures to 35% in the next three years.
Currently, SMEs form 99% of companies registered in Bahrain with a total committed capital of BD. 1.7 Billion (excluding individual companies) and employ 421,247 employees, of which 52,918 are Bahrainis.
Industry and Commerce Minister Zayed bin Rashid Alzayani said: ‘We recognise the role of SMEs in the economy and will work continuously to support and grow the sector in the economy.”
With the figures and growth speaking for themselves, banks are looking more and more at SMEs as not only reliable, but also the most direct route to profit and momentum in the drive to boost the private sector and, more specifically, SME’s in Bahrain from their side are gathering greater pace.
Bahrain based Islamic bank Ithmaar Bank recently announced the launch of a package of funding for SMEs. Teaming up with Tamkeen (who in collaboration with an array of Banks in Bahrain, offer a scheme to facilitate access to Sharia compliant financing at a competitive profit rate for SMEs), the package will seek to provide up to BD 500,000 ($13.2 million) to eligible private sector businesses to help spur their growth.
Tamkeen’s broader national scheme, to date, has provided a total of BD 412.5 million to more than 6,000 SMEs via a range of different banks, including KFH- Bahrain and Standard Chartered Bank.
Jon Richards CEO of compareit4me group, said: “Cash flow is the life blood for any business and this is particularly true for a small start-up, where revenues are in their infancy and the business requires a lot of investment to grow.” He added: “Given the importance of SMEs in any market, it’s essential the local banks and government support their development and create banking products designed around the needs of start-ups. It’s these businesses that are creating jobs and opportunities, which in turn helps the economy as a whole. So it’s a win-win situation for the banks.”
In economies across the globe, SMEs make significant contributions in areas such as innovation, efficiency, job creation and international competitiveness. Even in mature economies like the US, the impact of SMEs is huge. It was reported that 98 percent of the 302,000 companies which exported goods in 2011 were SMEs with fewer than 500 employees, while small firms accounted for 63 per cent of the net new jobs created between 1993 and mid-2013.
Currently in the UAE, SMEs contribute an estimated 40-46 per cent of nominal gross domestic product (GDP) in Dubai, and host the majority of employment opportunities in the country, providing an impressive 86 per cent of all private sector employment. Dubai based SMEs represent 95 per cent of all firms, accounting for 42 per cent of the workforce and contributing around 40 percent to the GDP generated.
This is in the most part down to the support of the UAE banks, with many offering a wide range of products and services, including loans and over drafts, trade finance products and foreign exchange solutions.
With the SME sector in Bahrain already contributing 28 percent to GDP, it’s clear with continued support from the banks, the same impact on the economy is in the foreseeable.