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SME Featured Southeast Asia

ADB, TPB sign $25m loan to finance women-led SMEs in Vietnam

Manila, Philippines – The Asian Development Bank (ADB), the regional bank headquartered in Manila, has announced that it has signed a $25m loan with Vietnam’s Tien Phong Commercial Joint Stock Bank (TPB) to expand access to finance of women-owned and -led small and medium-sized enterprises (WSMEs) in Vietnam. The project is also cofinanced by DEG – Deutsche Investitions- und Entwicklungsgesellschaft mbH (DEG) for $25m. 

Furthermore, the loan is accompanied by a $750,000 technical assistance grant to help TPB better meet the needs of WSMEs. The grant will be used to build TPB’s capacity to lend to WSMEs, hire staff, and promote its services to female borrowers. It will also enable TPB to use digital systems to analyze the underserved WSME market. The grant is funded by the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi), which is hosted by the World Bank Group.

“We are very pleased to partner with TPB and We-Fi to support WSMEs, which are important channels to increase women’s participation in Vietnam’s economic development,” said ADB’s Director General for Private Sector Operations Suzanne Gaboury.

“COVID-19 has severely affected many businesses, and initiatives such as this loan and grant will support particularly underserved female borrowers by helping TPB develop systems and procedures to improve their access to finance,” adds Gaboury.

ADB shares data that as of 2018, the majority of businesses in Vietnam are classified as SMEs, supporting 38% of the country’s employment and generating 40% of gross domestic product. But their access to finance is still a challenge, with only 37% of WSMEs able to obtain loans from banks, according to a 2017 study. 

“ADB, DEG, and TPB’s goals are uniquely aligned especially in our mutual support of WSMEs,” said TPB’s Chief Executive Officer Nguyen Hung.

 “We will continue to leverage our strength in digital banking to tailor products and services for WSMEs and plan to increase supply chain financing and support services, liquidity, and digital banking products to reach underserved customers,” added Nguyen Hung. 

TPB is one of the leading joint-stock banks in Vietnam. Currently, it has digital platforms targeted to help meet the needs of its retail and SME customers by offering innovative and customized products.

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SME Featured APAC

APAC’s Plug and Play unveils new programs to accelerate startup, SME growth

Singapore – Global innovation platform Plug and Play has recently concluded its APAC-centric summit last 1 to 2 June, in which the firm introduced three new programs for startups and SMEs. 

The three new programs are the ‘Sustainability Program’, ‘Business Solutions Accelerator by Facebook’, and its ‘GK – Plug and Play Program’. 

In the virtual event, it was announced that the ‘Sustainability Program’ seeks to provide the tools and network for startups with disruptive technologies that will allow them to empower big corporations to meet their green initiatives.

Part of the solutions instated include equipping SMEs forward thinking into creating sustainable supply chains, implementation of digital technologies for sustainable production, training and advisory for sustainable practices, and compliance or certification of sustainable practices. 

Jupe Tan, managing partner at Plug and Play APAC, commented, “This year we celebrate our 15th anniversary with a global team of almost 600 across 35 cities around the world. We will look to actively invest in technologies that focus on enhancing our living environment and address our resource constraints in a sustainable manner that reduces emissions and efficiently uses natural resources.” 

Meanwhile, the ‘Business Solutions Accelerator by Facebook’ will be made possible by Facebook and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to which Tan describes as an innovation catered to looking into areas such as cleantech and clean energy, sustainable agriculture, inclusive fintech as well as inclusive healthcare.

Through the accelerator, Facebook is looking forward to nurturing and collaborating with technology partners that share Facebook’s commitment to improving the merchant experience for businesses across the Facebook family of apps. Program benefits include product education, dedicated Facebook mentors for guidance on product development and business growth, networking with fellow startups and ecosystem enablers, insights into industry and innovation trends.

Lastly, the ‘GK Plug and Play’ aims to make innovation within reach for enterprising groups and individuals. Plug and Play aims to build a smart future by connecting innovation to the brightest minds, as well as building a unique ecosystem as their mission that connects change-makers and leading organizations. So far, the accelerator program has run 8 batches and accelerated 123 startups giving them enhanced access to mentors, investors, and corporations.

On the program with Facebook and ADB, Tan said, “I am proud to announce that we have embarked on a regional partnership with the Asian Development Bank through ADB Ventures, the new venture arm of the ADB. Together with ADB Ventures, we hope to source for and invest in bold technology startups that are working to solve Asia Pacific’s biggest unsolved problems.