Mall Group, banks to offer soft loan packages for SMEs

A restaurant at The Mall Bangkapi in Bangkok is almost empty amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Varuth Hirunyatheb
A restaurant at The Mall Bangkapi in Bangkok is almost empty amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Varuth Hirunyatheb

The Mall Group, the operator of The Mall, The Emporium, EmQuartier and Siam Paragon, has collaborated with six leading financial institutions and the Bank of Thailand (BoT) to design special soft loan packages for its partners, including small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to restore their business capacity and extend their business in the post-Covid-19 era.

Supaluck Umpujh, chairwoman of The Mall Group, said The Mall Group has joined forces with leading financial institutions, including Krungthai Bank, Bangkok Bank, Siam Commercial Bank, Kasikorn Bank, Krungsri Ayutthaya Bank and Government Savings Bank to support soft loans and increase the capacity of of over 6,000 businesses including shop owners, suppliers and SMEs.

This initiative was announced on Monday at a webinar hosted by the BoT, the Thai Bankers Association and the Mall Group.

“It is my real intention to help SMEs. If they fall, we as a retailer also fall. Joining our webinar with the appearance of leading banks’ CEOs and the central bank governor is a phenomenon, showing their commitment to support SMEs,” Ms Supaluck said.

This partnership will help SMEs to receive faster soft loans to ease their cash flow management, lighten the burden of their expenses and preserve their employment which consequently would benefit the Thai economy. New SMEs also have the opportunity to access the soft loan.

“This is the prototype model to help them move forward sustainably and strong. However, how soon will the soft loan help? The shopping mood will never recover if shoppers are not confident about efficient vaccine distribution,” Ms Supaluck said.

Under the collaboration, The Mall Group will be the bridge that coordinates and gathers all basic information from the entrepreneurs, shop owners, suppliers and SMEs who are interested in the soft loan, to give to the banks.

The Mall Group will also organise a meeting to proceed with the next step between the entrepreneurs and the banks.

Then they will proceed to get the soft loan approval from the banks, and the banks will contact the entrepreneurs who have applied for the soft loan directly.

Entrepreneurs who have received soft loan approval will also be contacted directly by the bank and The Mall Group will accommodate the process and help to uphold the terms and conditions between the borrower and the bank.

In addition to the soft loan, the country has to be repositioned, drawing quality tourists to spend money here more than visit natural tourism places.

Weak points and strong points of the country need to be revised and a new country strategy needs to be drawn up. A strategic committee should be set up to work with participants from both the private sector and government.

“We will be impacted again this year but expect less impact if Phuket can open for tourists in July as planned. We believe that the vaccine is the only hope to revive Thailand and help all to overcome the hardest time,” Ms Supaluck said.

Bank of Thailand governor Sethaput Suthiwartnarueput said at the same webinar that the government has implemented several debt relief measures to help business operators hit by the pandemic to overcome the crisis and maintain the country’s employment. The central bank implemented the latest amended soft loan and asset warehousing schemes last month.

Apart from assistance measures, execution is a key factor helping affected businesses. Looking ahead, the economy will still face higher uncertainties while vaccination is the key factor to support the country’s economic recovery, he said.

Corporate firms can support the data of their supply chain businesses, such as invoices, inventory, goods and service payment, and others to financial institutions. This will benefit banks’ credit risk analysis of SMEs.

“SMEs’ information will help banks to analyse the credit risk of an SME better and facilitate smaller businesses accessing bank loans. The BoT wants to invite large companies to join such solution to help SMEs,” he said.

Mr Sethaput said SMEs also need to adjust their business model for survival. In particular, they need to standardise financial and accounting systems and digitalise business operations. This will help cut their operating costs and improve inventory management, income and profitability.

Payong Srivanich, chairman of the Thai Bankers Association (TBA), said the TBA has worked with retail business associations, The Mall Group and other related parties to develop a digital supply chain platform.

With the digital platform, banks can access data of The Mall Group’s business partners better and help SMEs access bank facilities.

Financial assistance begins with the retail sector because it is a major employer. There are around 2.5 million SMEs in the retail industry with nine million workers, representing 77% of total employment in the SME segment.

There are around 6,000 small businesses in The Mall Group’s supply chain.

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