With more than 50 percent of its customers are small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), the Vietnam Joint Stock Commercial Bank for Industry and Trade (Vietinbank) continues proving to be a fulcrum for the SMEs bloc.

Vietinbank has over the past years designed many special preferential credit programmes for the bloc and taken the advantage of capital from international organisations to assist SMEs, such as a 57.7 million DM Vietnam - Germany credit programme and a 465 billion VND loan programme provided by the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC).

Under the two programmes, SMEs are entitled to borrow 85 percent of the capital worth of their projects compared with the limit of 50 percent from banks. To date, SMEs’ total liability provided by international organisations have totalled more than 1.1 trillion VND.

As a sole Vietnamese bank taking part in the APEC financial institutions in assisting such enterprises, Vietinbank has been seeking new capital sources and acting as a bridge connecting member banks with domestic SMEs.

Vietinbank has offered many new products to help SMEs overcome difficulties to restore production this year. The bank has recently provided unsecured credits with mutually-agreed interests to traditional craft businesses in Hanoi , the northern provinces of Bac Ninh and Nam Dinh and the central highlands province of Lam Dong .

Additionally, the bank has also provided consultations on production and payment activities and opened 100 business training courses for these enterprises.

Vietinbank leaders said that SMEs still remain its major customers in the post-equitisation process and the bank will offer new products to facilitate their growth.

Regarding to the development of SMEs, the Government issued Decree 56 on assisting SMEs through building a mechanism to encourage commercial banks to provide them with credit.

A SME Development Fund will also be set up to provide them financial assistance to develop highly competitive products and implement projects./.