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Banking on SMEs: Trends and Challenges

Perspectives from SME Banking Leaders

What is the future of SME banking? In IFC’s inaugural SME business banking survey, we asked the heads of SME Banking operations serving small businesses around the world. The online survey launched in 2018 posed questions to better understand what the biggest issues SME banking leaders are grappling with and where they see opportunities to run innovative, competitive and sustainable SME banking units.

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The survey received responses from 114 SME banking executives serving more than 17.5 million small businesses from the biggest SME banks working at a regional and multinational level. Of the total respondents, 14 percent serve small businesses in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), 8 percent in East Asia and the Pacific (EAP), 11 percent in South Asia (SA), 16 percent in Europe and Central Asia (ECA), 12 percent in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), 30 percent in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), and 9 percent cover multiple regions.

This report aggregates the responses to provide insight into the biggest issues occupying SME bankers’ minds, broken down by regional trends and client-base size. The analysis includes the challenges banks face while serving small businesses, investment areas that are yielding results and innovations that will shape SME banking and client engagement going forward.