Risk-averse banking industry hurts SMEs

Spring Singapore must be commended for taking on 50 per cent of the risk in offering small and medium-sized enterprises loans, but the same cannot be said of the participating financial institutions in Spring's loan scheme (SMEs can optimise cash flow with strong finance processes; June 22).

Since last year, I have been approaching the 12 participating financial institutions for the $300,000 Working Capital Loan on behalf of my company, but have been turned down by all of them.

The relationship managers may be supportive of our application, but they are overridden by the banks' credit risk management.

They say they are not keen, require other ancillary businesses, need private property collateral as added security or say that we have poor financials.

It seems the banking industry is so risk-averse that banks will not touch SMEs with poor financial performance and negative cash flows with a 10-foot pole.

The scarcity of working capital hampers SMEs' daily operations and survival. Even if we have projects in hand, it is challenging to meet project deadlines without working capital.

SMEs have no choice but to turn to crowdfunding and other unorthodox methods. The cost is extremely high but we cannot wait for financial institutions to show us support.

Leong Yee Keong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 30, 2017, with the headline 'Risk-averse banking industry hurts SMEs'. Print Edition | Subscribe