Comunicación Externa.Ciudad Grupo Santander Edificio Arrecife Pl. 228660 Boadilla del Monte (Madrid) Telf.: 34 91 289 52 firstname.lastname@example.orgPress ReleaseSantander launches a plan to boost SME growth The aim is to improve small and medium-sized companies’ access to loans andfinancial services, new technologies, export markets and skilled labour. The Santander group wants to double its SME lending in Latin America to US$20 billion and to increase its SME customers in the region by 100,000 a year to 1million by 2016. This project is part of the group’s international strategy of supporting SMEs,which includes initiatives such as the ‘Plan Exporta’ in Spain, or ‘Breakthrough’in the United Kingdom.Santander, June 26, 2013 – Javier San Félix, Banco Santander’s head of retail banking, saidSMEs offered a significant opportunity for growth in the bank’s Latin American markets andannounced the group was launching a strategic plan, ‘Santander SMEs’. He was speaking atthe XII Santander-Latin America Meeting at the Universidad Internacional Menendez Pelayo.The new plan involves doubling SME lending in the region to US$ 20 billion by 2016,excluding Brazil, and reaching 1 million customers by gaining 100,000 a year. San Félix alsostressed the importance of improving efficiency by automating transactions such as salariesand card payments using point-of-sale terminals. He said Santander could be processing 1.4million salaries within three years and dealing with 67 point-of-sale transactions a second,compared with 1.1 million salaries and 48 point-of-sale terminal operations a second now.Santander SMEs forms part of the group’s global policy of supporting SMEs in its mainmarkets. The bank is committed to improving these companies’ access to loans and financialservices, new technologies and skilled labour and helping them open up new internationalmarkets.This strategy includes initiatives such as the Plan Exporta in Spain, which, since its launch inMarch, 2011, has allowed more than 8,000 SMEs to start exporting or to increase theirinternational sales, or the Breakthrough programme launched last year in the UK, with 200million pounds of funding available to finance the small companies that are key to the UK’sgrowth policy.Santander’s global head of retail banking said the bank is “the financial leader in LatinAmerica and has been the region’s SME bank for many years”. This year its loan portfoliothere will exceed $12 billion, excluding Brazil, with more than 750,000 customers. In Mexico,the bank’s SME lending has quadrupled in the last five years, while in Argentina it has tripledand in Chile it is growing at more than 10% a year.
Comunicación Externa.Ciudad Grupo Santander Edificio Arrecife Pl. 228660 Boadilla del Monte (Madrid) Telf.: 34 91 289 52 email@example.comSan Félix said, however, that there are still many obstacles in the way of small Latin Americancompanies obtaining access to financing. Santander’s plan seeks to reduce the “widespreadinformality and low productivity” of these businesses. “Without strong, competitive, well-organised SMEs, a country’s growth will remain below its potential,” he said.“SMEs have less contact with banks in the region than they do in other OECD countries. Theyhave fewer deposits, make less use of transactional services and even lending is lower,” hesaid. Even if the proportion of people working in SMEs is similar to other OECD countries (twoout of three workers), Latin American SMEs’ contribution to GDP is about half the OECD rate.“Latin America has a great opportunity to achieve economic growth and social wellbeing, but itneeds to increase SMEs’ contribution to GDP as they are the mainstays of employmentworldwide,” he said. In San Félix’s opinion, banks alone are not enough to drive SME growth.He said governments, universities, employers’ associations, large companies, technologyfirms and multinational institutions should all be involved.“Santander has complete faith in SMEs. We want to provide more financial services and wealso want to help other players provide them with e-commerce, support their exports, open upuniversity education to their managers and ease their difficulties in finding qualified workers,”San Félix said.He added that Santander was in a unique position to help foster SMEs and could offerelements that others could not, such as “our global support for university education and ourinternational programme of grants, our agreements with employers’ associations or ourpermanent contacts with the public bodies that support SMEs”.