HSBC has launched a £10 billion lending fund to support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the UK, as part of a broader commitment to helping British businesses to realise their ambitions for growth.
The £10bn fund has been structured to ensure it is truly UK-wide so that SMEs in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are able to access the funds they need. HSBC continues to be open to lending, having approved 91% of small business lending applications in the last year.
Ian Stuart, UK CEO, HSBC said: “The launch of this £10bn fund reaffirms our commitment to support the growth of UK SMEs of all sizes, from start-ups to established businesses. The UK is home to a diverse range of SMEs across established and emerging sectors, operating in their regional markets or looking to trade internationally. We want to put SMEs in a stronger position to make investments that will stimulate local economies and create more jobs.”
A key focus of this year’s fund is to encourage small businesses to feel confident about exploring opportunities for export. A 2016 FSB Report noted that one in five (21%) of small businesses currently export, but there is potential to double this figure with the right support*.
Amanda Murphy, Head of Commercial Banking at HSBC UK said: “SMEs are the lifeblood of the UK economy, and for many there is an opportunity and appetite to grow their business through exporting. HSBC can provide access to new trading networks for businesses of all sizes, help them to understand how they can consider exporting with confidence, and has the expertise to help businesses navigate change by being responsive, flexible and nimble.”
HSBC research findings into 1000 UK SMEs, both those already exporting and those that are considering it, reflected a business population prepared to consider the opportunities of international trade but wary of a range of perceived barriers.
For potential exporters, among the barriers to growth were:
- A lack of understanding of local market (68%)
- A lack of international business experience (73%)
- Problems overcoming language/cultural barriers (60%).
With a geographic network covering more than 90% of global trade and capital flows, HSBC is uniquely placed to help businesses to understand the available markets and overcome the obstacles to growth.
The findings also noted a perception that businesses need to be a long-established business to explore export opportunities, but 70% of HSBC’s exporting SMEs started to trade abroad when they were less than ten years old. Nearly two thirds (35%) of these were not yet one year old when they began exporting.