Saudi Arabia aims to help SMEs expand their export potential

Saudi bank offers 17 credit solutions to small exporters to help them expand their operations worldwide

Business meeting with a group of entrepreneurs on a conference table in a office. Image used for illustrative purpose.

Business meeting with a group of entrepreneurs on a conference table in a office. Image used for illustrative purpose.

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RIYADH: The Saudi Export-Import (EXIM) Bank has approved nearly SR8 billion ($2.13 billion) in lending to non-oil exporters since it was launched early last year, helping them to distribute their goods to more than 45 countries around the world.

The lender was established as part of the government’s Vision 2030 goal to raise the share of exports in the non-oil economy from 16 percent at present to 50 percent by the end of the decade.

“We at Saudi EXIM are mandated to serve all Saudi-based exporters of non-oil content, be it goods, services or intermediate value-added products, irrespective of their enterprise size. We do so by ensuring that our role complements that of commercial lenders instead of eroding it or competing with it,” Dr. Naif Al-Shammari, acting CEO of Saudi EXIM, said in an interview with Arab News.

“We pay special attention to small and medium enterprises given the limited access they have to commercial funds. This extends even to those that do not have an export track record, provided that they have valid on-hand orders from the export market,” Al-Shammari said.

To boost the performance of exporters in the non-oil sector, the Saudi EXIM Bank offers 17 different credit solution products, which were developed in accordance with best international practices and based on the needs of Saudi-based exporters and their foreign clients, Al-Shammari said.

Meshari Alrajih, an assistant professor of marketing at the King Saud University, said small and medium-sized exporters can benefit from the new “Made in Saudi” program, which offers several solutions to promote the development of local products. There are many forms of support that can be used, such as fee exemptions for starting industrial enterprises of up to five employees, he explained. He pointed to other programs related to Vision 2030 that can help small and medium enterprises (SMEs), including the National Industrial Development and Logistics Program, the Local Content and Government Procurement Authority and the Industrial Development Fund.


• The Saudi Export-Import Bank has approved nearly $2.13 billion in lending to non-oil exporters since it was launched early last year.

• It provides export financing, guarantees and export credit insurance services with competitive advantages.

To become one of the companies helping to achieve the targets set by the Vision 2030 program, Alrajih said, entrepreneurs should contact the relevant authorities with experience in this area, such as the Saudi Exports Development Authority and the chambers of commerce. He also recommended that small companies participate in international exhibitions and conferences, to build up their overseas networks.

Alrajih urges SMEs to market their products outside the Kingdom through a number of channels such as the Ministry of Investment, which has overseas offices specializing in helping such companies.

Design and branding consultant Fawaz Al-Otaibi said the “Made in Saudi” initiative comes at a critical time. “During the past years, many Saudis have received their education in the most prestigious universities in the world and studied design, branding, industrial design and other specializations,” he said, adding that this new skillset among young Saudis will lead to “a significant transformation within a short period.”

As Saudi SMEs become more experienced at marketing their products to a wider global audience, agencies such as the Saudi EXIM Bank will be on hand to help them to finance the logistics needed to become exporters, helping the government to achieve its ambitious Vision 2030 targets.

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