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"United Overseas Bank (UOB) is financing sustainable futures for Asia’s SMEs."

The Impaakt Team

7 min Read Time | May 7th 2021

The W.O.W. Award

Welcome to our WOW (weekly outstanding work) award.

Each week we share the latest and greatest articles published on our impact measurement platform.

Written by our community, with the aim to hold companies to account for their environmental and social impact, each of the articles is carefully vetted before they are published and this award selects the best work from the week.

Find out who the winner this week is by reading on:

“United Overseas Bank (UOB) is financing sustainable futures for Asia’s SMEs.”

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Written by: Amit K.

Company: United Overseas Bank

SDG 8: Decent work and Economic Growth

Feedback from the reviewing team:

"Amit does a great job of explaining the issue at hand, reinforced with solid research. This article demonstrates the importance of programmes that support small businesses, and how these activities have become even more essential during the pandemic."

Read the full impact analysis below and ensure you log-in or sign-up to make your ratings about the impact the topic in this analysis has on the environment and society.

In the Asia-Pacific region, 98% of businesses are small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and employ 50% of the region’s total workforce1. It contributes 17% of national GDP in India and 40%-50% in high income countries like Singapore and Malaysia1. However, banks around the world consider SME financing as a risky investment2. The SME Finance Forum identified a $300 billion funding gap in Southeast Asia3.

United Overseas Bank (UOB) consider financing as a key to SMEs’ operations and growth4. They serve over 274,000 SME clients across Asia4. UOB granted $45.3 billion in loans to SMEs in 2019, which was 9% higher than the previous year5;p51, and it was 23% of their total customer loans5;p25. On the other hand, their competitor DBS bank provided $27.2 billion in financing (10.2% of total customer loans6;p141) for SMEs in the same year7:p3. In 2019, UOB and DBS bank recorded $202 Bn (S$269 Bn5;p25) and $268 Bn (S$357 Bn6;p141) in total customer lending respectively.

Through UOB’s flagship collateral-free loan product, BizMoney, 2,800 SMEs in Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand got $547 million of working capital loans in 20195;p51. A grant of $40 million to Singapore Poultry Hub Pte Ltd helped the company to improve its productivity by 26% and production capacity by 70%, while reducing waste by 60 tonnes/day5;p51. Also, UOB rolled out COVID relief measures and granted $2.1 billion in relief assistance for SMEs8.

As of April 2020, UOB has supported over a million businesses and individuals through loan moratorium and other relief measures8. The dedicated technology specialist team at UOB helped over 10,000 small businesses to set up additional revenue channels during the pandemic9. UOB also reached 31,000 SMEs across the Asian region with their BizSmart business solutions platform5;p22.

To summarize, UOB is helping to address the SME funding gap issue and empowering small businesses. However, there is always enough scope remaining for further improvements.

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