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World Bank’s IFC partners with Vietnam’s SeABank to expand lending for SMEs


Hanoi, Vietnam – In response to the pandemic and its economic effects, International Finance Corporation (IFC), the sister organization of the World Bank focused on the private sector in emerging markets, has partnered with Vietnam’s international trade financing company, Southeast Asia Commercial Joint Stock Bank (SeABank), extending a US$40m loan to support businesses in Vietnam make a resilient recovery.

In the first phase of an up to US$150m financing package, the partnership aims to expand lending to local SMEs, especially women-owned businesses (WSMEs), increase access to climate finance, and boost international trade opportunities. 

The funding package will comprise up to US$80m from IFC’s own account and $50m to be mobilized from international lenders, in addition to a US$20m trade finance line. While the investment aims to increase SeABank’s SME lending portfolio, at least US$20m will be earmarked for WSMEs, with support from the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi). 

With a strategy to expand its reach to WSMEs, IFC’s funding will help the bank triple its current WSME lending, accounting for about 25% of its total SME portfolio by 2024. IFC will also be advising the bank to develop a banking on women strategy to help bridge the US$4.9b financing gap of WSMEs, accounting for more than one-fifth of the SME financing gap in the country. The bank will further support green building and energy efficiency projects, which can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

SeABank’s General Director Le Thu Thuy noted that IFC’s long-term financing and technical advice will enable SeABank to focus on two strategic segments—WSMEs and climate financing—and position itself as a bank of choice for women-owned businesses and climate-friendly projects over the next five years.

“Given the pandemic, IFC’s timely investment also allows us to extend support to more businesses at a critical time while contributing to the stability of Vietnam’s overall financial market,” said Thuy.

Meanwhile, Kyle Kelhofer, the country manager of IFC Vietnam, Cambodia, and Lao PDR, shared that IFC’s new partnership with SeABank reaffirms IFC’s commitment to supporting the continued development of a strong financial sector in Vietnam.

“Our investment in SeABank reiterates our confidence in the bank and its strategic direction to increase financing for SMEs and climate investments, furthering green and inclusive growth, and helping Vietnam build back better from the COVID pandemic,” said Kelhofer.

Furthermore, IFC will be helping SeABank to support the country’s climate finance needs with US$30m to be allocated for climate-friendly projects. IFC’s support will also be expected to help SeABank build a US$60m climate-finance portfolio by 2024.

IFC’s US$20m trade guarantee line under its Global Trade Finance Program (GTFP) will boost SeABank’s capacity to provide financing for importers and exporters to minimize trade disruption given the ongoing pandemic. Participation in GTFP will enable SeABank to join a network of more than 500 bank partners in nearly 100 emerging-market countries.

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