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Middle East's Best Bank Awards

Saudi Arabia: Best Bank for SMEs 2021

Riyad Bank

Before the coronavirus pandemic hit the Middle East, Riyad Bank was regarded by many as the go-to lender for SME owners. Earlier this year, though, the Saudi Arabian government essentially made that role official.

As part of the government’s Vision 2030 scheme, it established the General Authority for Small and Medium Enterprises, or Monshaat, to support the SME sector by increasing productivity and competitiveness, and to increase its contribution to gross domestic product to 35% by 2030 from about 20% now.

In January, Riyad signed an exclusive cooperation agreement with the Monshaat programme to broaden its franchise financing efforts.

This was a clear nod to Riyad’s pioneering role in creating SME success stories, in particular its commitment to empowering young Saudis to turn aspirations into reality and diversifying the economy away from oil.

In the Covid era, the priority has been containing credit risks among existing clients. Under the leadership of chief executive Tareq Al Sadhan, Riyad Bank has prioritized monitoring liquidity positions of customers across sectors, while keeping its eye on the growth opportunities. At present, SMEs account for 13.4% of the bank’s lending portfolio, a figure set to increase further.

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