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Middle East’s best bank for SMEs 2021: Riyad Bank

Riyad Bank’s transformation into the region’s best bank for small and medium-sized enterprises coincides with Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 plans to diversify away from oil and towards tourism, manufacturing, clean energy and logistics. SMEs are one of the key planks not only of Riyad Bank chief executive Tareq Al Sadhan’s business strategy but also for Vision 2030. The kingdom has a longstanding aim of boosting the share of loans allocated to smaller firms to 20% by the end of the decade, against 2% in 2015.

Riyad Bank’s SME loan portfolio as a share of total lending stood at 13.4% at the end of 2020 versus 4.7% in 2015 (the national average is 8%). Covid forced the lender to think and act in new and innovative ways. On the orders of the central bank, it deferred payments for 21,000 smaller companies, collectively worth SR40 billion ($10.67 billion), and kept its 28 SME, corporate banking and trade finance centres open for business.

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