The Association of Southeast Asian Nation (ASEAN) has unveiled a credit rating benchmark for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the bloc with a view to increasing their access to finance.

The system was introduced at a recent workshop held in Jakarta, Indonesia by the ASEAN Secretariat, Bank Indonesia (BI) and Indonesia’s Ministry of Cooperative and SMEs.

The workshop aimed to socialise the outcomes of the study and create awareness on the benefits of credit rating system among key stakeholders.

Participants at the event discussed SMEs-related issues, such as the definition of SMEs, their contributions to the economy, main criteria and principles credit rating in order to serve the establishment, start-up and access to finance of SMEs.

Challenges ahead include availability and integrity of credit data, both financial and non-financials, as well as acceptance by relevant stakeholders to utilise and trust the credit rating assigned by credit rating agencies, they said.

The workshop was part of the ASEAN SMEs Agencies Working Group’s initiative to develop an ASEAN benchmark for SME credit rating methodology for reducing asymmetric credit information thus enhancing access to finance for SMEs.-VNA