Regional: Best Bank for SMEs 2021
If any bank epitomizes Saudi Arabia’s present and future, it’s the one Tareq Abdulrahman Al Sadhan ran with particular skill in 2020.
The central role that small and medium-size enterprises play in Riyad Bank’s growth strategy dovetails with the Saudi government’s Vision 2030 strategy. Today, SMEs account for 20% of gross domestic product. The aim is to raise that contribution to 35%. Progress in getting there, however, has been complicated by a once-in-a-century pandemic.
This is quite a headwind for Saudi Arabia. As Covid-19 hits global economies, it’s undermining one of the most important drivers of the nation’s diversification efforts. Saudi Arabia is an SME-heavy economy, with roughly 99% of them run privately. Starved for capital, it’s often hard for even innovative companies to graduate to large company status.
Under chief executive Al Sadhan, who took charge of Riyad Bank in April 2019, the firm ramped up investments in serving SMEs.
In 2019, for example, the bank added four new SME-dedicated offices and centres, bringing the total to 21 around the nation, in 15 different cities and towns.