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OPEC Fund grants US$35m loan to SeABank to facilitate finance for women-owned SMEs

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Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam – OPEC Fund, the intergovernmental development finance institution established by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), has announced that will be granting a US$35m loan to local bank Southeast Asia Commercial Joint Stock Bank (SeABank) to facilitate access to finance for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and women-owned businesses.

Said loan complements a US$80m loan from the International Finance Corporation (IFC), as well as a US$20m trade limit and a US$85m IFC-arranged syndicated loan from international lenders.

SMEs account for 98% of all enterprises and 50% of employment in Vietnam and are the backbone of the country’s economy. Women-owned businesses have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic due to reduced access to financial services and business interruptions resulting from obligations such as childcare during lockdowns.

OPEC Fund Director-General Abdulhamid Alkhalifa said, “We are pleased to partner with SeABank and join forces with international lenders to provide financing to support Vietnam’s sustainable economic growth. Increasing access to finance for SMEs, especially women-owned businesses, will help reduce inequalities in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).”

Meanwhile, Le Thu Thuy, general director at SeABank, commented, “Supporting SMEs and women-owned enterprises has always been a priority of SeABank’s development strategy and remains our responsibility as these enterprises are facing the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

She added, “SeABank is honoured to have won the trust and financial support of the OPEC Fund, a respected multilateral development finance institution. This illustrates SeABank’s reputation and ability to access international capital. The OPEC Fund’s financing will enhance SeABank’s capacity to support the development of women-owned businesses as well as develop gender-smart actions.”

Vietnam has continued to ramp up efforts to finance its growing SME population, including the Asian Development Bank signing a US$25m loan to TPBank.

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