Tuesday 29 February 2022
Saudi Arabia’s General Authority for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), Monsha'at, yesterday announced an 884% year-on-year increase in SME borrowing on Funding Gate (Tamweel), the online financing platform. While Monsha’at does not lend directly, Funding Gate provides an automated lending platform that aggregates financial products and expedites the delivery of funding for SMEs. Monsha’at bills Funding Gate as “A fintech solution that…simplifies and speeds up the delivery of funding for SMEs.” Funding Gate has assisted over 2770 enterprises while automating the SME lending process from inquiry through to delivery, thus reducing average service delivery time from 86 days in December 2020 to 7 days in December 2021. The report states that, “Demand for the lending platform has been exponential, indicating a significant appetite for financing among SMEs in the Kingdom. 45 entities currently provide financial products via Funding Gate, including leading banks such as ANB, SNB, Bank Albilad, Alinma Bank, and Riyadh Bank.” Borrowing through Funding Gate reached over SAR11 billion ($2.93 billion) in 2021 from SAR1.1 billion in 2020, helping Saudi Arabia’s SME ecosystem to contribute 35% of GDP and achieving a key Vision 2030 objective to diversify the Kingdom’s economy, while transitioning away from a reliance on oil and its derivatives. Alongside Funding Gate, Monsha’at’s ‘Kafalah’ program is a loan guarantee service that reduces risk and increases appetite for lenders, guaranteeing SAR67.7 billion in loans in 2021. Meanwhile, Monsha’at’s ‘Esterdad Initiative’ for reimbursement of government fees (such as licenses), enabled SAR3.5 billion to be repaid to SMEs; while SAR2.5 billion in loans have been facilitated through Monsha’at’s Indirect Lending Initiative, which enables SMEs to access low-cost finance. Monsha’at also established the Saudi Venture Capital Company (SVC) in 2018. SVC — part of the Kingdom’s Financial Sector Development Program — describes itself as “stimulating venture investments by investing in funds as well as co-investing with angel groups for the primary goal of minimizing financing gaps for startups and SMEs by investing SAR2.8 billion.” SAR1.3 billion has so far been invested through SVC, further stimulating Saudi Arabia’s private investment ecosystem. The Monsha’at report provides broader industry data on the Kingdom’s VC ecosystem, similarly pointing to rapid growth of the equity finance space, with 91 VC deals made by Q3 2021, an annual rise of 386%. One beneficiary of Funding Gate is Jahez, an online food delivery platform, which in June 2020 received SAR137 million in funding from private investors – the largest VC deal of its kind in Saudi Arabia at the time. Jahez has also been listed on the Nomu parallel stock exchange in an initial public offering worth SAR1.6 billion. In addition to funding programs, Monsha’at provides a suite of advisory services, both online and through dedicated support centers. Monsha’at has overtaken Enterprise Singapore as the global benchmark for government programs to assist SMEs. In 2018, Singapore helped 5,000 companies annually, while Monsha’at is now helping over 20,000. Just over half (53%) of those arriving at a Monsha’at center with nothing more than an idea, end up starting their own business – creating over 11,000 jobs in the Kingdom over the past three years.

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